Although Ricardo Viñes (1875—1943) was active during the “golden age” of pianism, he deliberately pursued an entirely different musical path from his fellow practitioners. He is perhaps best categorized with the Catalan school of pianists, a group of formidable players that included Albéniz, Granados, Malats, Mompou, and de Larrocha. It goes without saying that Viñes became one of the leading interpreters of the Spanish piano literature. However, his affinities also extended to many French, Russian, and South American composers of the day. Generally eschewing the familiar Austro-German and Slavic repertoire of most pianists, Viñes campaigned tirelessly for new and recent works, introducing them throughout Europe and South America.
Viñes’s earliest teacher was Juan Pujol in Barcelona. At the suggestion of Albéniz, he traveled to Paris at the age of 12, enrolling in the Conservatoire class of Charles Bériot. There he met Maurice Ravel, his exact contemporary. It was not long before Viñes developed strong professional relationships with Debussy and Sévérac, later with Fauré, Satie, and Les Six. (Of the latter group, Francis Poulenc took piano lessons from Viñes; another pupil was Marcelle Meyer.)
This CD is the first to contain Viñes’s entire recorded output. He reportedly carried an intense dislike for the recording process, and consequently there are many works which should have been recorded by him. Nonetheless, the color and authority of Viñes’s playing is clearly evident, and these sonic documents, all dating from 1930—1936, give us a glimpse of how he earned the esteem of colleagues and audiences.
© Donald Manildi, 2007
ERicardo Viñes: The Complete Recordings