Tirino's approach to the task is monumental and comprehensive. He is recording Lecuona's complete works for solo piano and piano and orchestra as well as selected songs, in six volumes on the Bis label, the third of which has just appeared. He is also supervising the publication of these works and of a catalogue of published scores and recordings. Lecuona's music came as a revelation to Mr.
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Tirino's approach to the task is monumental and comprehensive. He is recording Lecuona's complete works for solo piano and piano and orchestra as well as selected songs, in six volumes on the Bis label, the third of which has just appeared. He is also supervising the publication of these works and of a catalogue of published scores and recordings.
Lecuona's music came as a revelation to Mr. Tirino when a friend sent him a recording of the composer's performances of his own music. Tirino said. The recording sat in the house for about three months until I decided to hear it, and my mouth fell to the floor. Tirino embarked on a thorough investigation of Lecuona's recorded legacy and published works, a task made enormously difficult not only by its scope but also by the poor state of scholarship on the subject and the scattered nature of the sources.
Lecuona composed some songs, piano pieces, 80 theater works and 30 orchestral scores. Through surviving relatives of the composer, who died childless in , Mr. Tirino gained access to the composer's 78's and piano rolls and was struck by the performance style as well as the music.
As a result of his investigations and performances, Mr. Tirino was invited to attend celebrations of the Lecuona centenary last year in Cuba. I was the first person of any nationality to be granted permission to go into the collection of the National Library, where they had tons of manuscripts by Lecuona, not only to see them but to copy them and take them out of the country.
The Cuban visit also allowed Mr. Tirino to meet significant figures in Lecuona's life and work, like the eminent composer, arranger, conductor and teacher Felix Guerrero. Guerrero collaborated in varying degrees in Lecuona's orchestral and theater works. Tirino's recordings to date Bis , and reveal the scope and variety of Lecuona's works.
The composer shows strong influences of Albeniz and Rimsky-Korsakov: Orientalist turns of phrase and harmony, a taste for exotic evocations of distant and mythical places. His piano writing is orchestral and often reflects Lecuona the virtuoso pianist, with wide skips, rapidly changing chords and unusually difficult work for the left hand.
The orchestral pieces, including ''Rapsodia Negra'' Volume 1 , ''Rapsodia Argentina'' Volume 2 and ''Rapsodia Cubana'' Volume 3 , are flashy, effective and occasionally entertaining. They are all ''mosaicos,'' as he called them, potpourris of his own themes and others'. Since neither their themes nor their orchestrations are original, their value is limited, but Mr.
Tirino and the Polish Radio Orchestra, led by Michael Bartos, perform them with appropriate panache, lushness and flexibility of tempo. Perhaps distance allowed these composers to gain a greater degree of idealization, a romanticism untinged by the tragedy of the great civil war, which marked the irretrievable loss of innocence for Spanish music.
Other Spanish pieces show Impressionist influences and more advanced harmonic touches. Particularly powerful are ''La Habanera'' and the whimsical and brilliant ''Mazurca en Glissando,'' in Volume 1.
But Lecuona's unique contribution to the pianistic repertory is best represented in his pieces in Afro-Cuban style. The best are the ''Danzas Afro-Cubanas'' Volume 3 , in which he assimilates the contagious rhythms of Afro-Cuban music within the formal structures and harmonies of Romantic piano music. Tirino introduces subtle textual changes and ornamentation based on Lecuona's recorded versions.
Lecuona's waltzes range from the derivative, in Volume 2, to the fascinating and varied ''Valses de Concierto'' in Volume 3. Also included are Three Miniatures and ''Diario de un Nino'' ''A Child's Diary'' , charming salon pieces and Schumannesque scenes of childhood, showing a different side of this fascinating composer.
In several song transcriptions Mr. Both their merits and their limitations lie in their unadorned simplicity. Tirino is to be congratulated not only for his cyclopean pianistic efforts and excellent, idiomatic interpretations but also for bringing a great melodist's work to the ears of a wide public and to the attention of pianists everywhere.
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Andalucía, suite for piano (Suite Española)
He composed over six hundred pieces, mostly in the Cuban vein, and was a pianist of exceptional skill. Lecuona was born in Guanabacoa , Havana , Cuba. There are inconsistencies surrounding his birthdate, with some sources indicating the year , and others still giving the day as August 6. He started studying piano at the age of five,  under his sister Ernestina Lecuona , a famed composer in her own right. As a child prodigy, he composed his first song at the age of Lecuona graduated from the National Conservatory of Havana with a Gold Medal for interpretation when he was sixteen.
Andalucía (Lecuona, Ernesto)