Alicia de Larrocha’s daughter, Alicia Torra, writes in memory of her mother to accompany the releases of her very first recordings
My mother, the pianist Alicia de Larrocha, did not like recording but, despite that, she was one of the most recorded pianists of her time. She did not like the idea that her performances would last a lifetime, given her perfectionist nature. She was never satisfied enough to give final approval and her view of a piece of music would change as she matured, both as a person and a pianist.
Her managers as well as her husband, Juan Torra, my father and her number one fan, knew how imperative it was for her to make recordings. At the beginning of her career, it was necessary in order to make herself known and then later on, once recognized as a great pianist, it was necessary in order to preserve her legacy. Their unwavering commitment was the reason she ended up having such an extensive discography.
The recordings contained in this 3-CD set were her very first. The record label was American Decca and although some of the works were recorded first in Bilbao, Spain, the definitive recordings were made in New York, some in the DECCA studios in March 1954 and others in the Pythian Temple during the month of April 1955. The producer was the Grammy Award winner Thomas Frost, father of the also several-time Grammy Award winner and record producer David Frost. At that time, nobody could predict that it would be precisely Thomas’s son, David, who was going to produce the latest recordings that my mother made, which in this case were for RCA Victor/BMG . What a coincidence then that it was father and son who produced, respectively, the very first and last of Alicia de Larrocha’s commercial recordings!
The pieces contained in this set are all from Spanish composers. When these LPs first appeared, Spanish music was not well known internationally. My mother was one of the first pianists who helped create interest and an audience for Spanish music. Of the 5 composers who appear in this set, she personally met 4 of them: Turina, Esplá, Rodrigo and especially Mompou, with whom she maintained a close friendship. Unfortunately, she never met Granados because he died prematurely in 1916 when the ship he was traveling on was mistakenly torpedoed by a German submarine in the English Channel. However, she had known about Granados since childhood, as her mother and Aunt Carolina were disciples of the composer, as well as her teacher, Frank Marshall, who took over his piano school when Granados died.
Throughout her life, Alicia de Larrocha re-recorded, on several occasions and with different record labels, some of the works included in this set. What makes this anthology special is not only the chance to hear her remastered first recordings, but also to get an inside perspective on how she experienced these pieces at the age of thirty.
I want to thank Eloquence for their interest in re-editing and making available again these historical recordings.