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Spain has frequently been treated as an evocative, exotic locale in European music, particularly during the Romantic era - most often for the Russians (Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov), and the French (Massenet, Saint-Saens, Debussy, Ravel, Chabrier - this list seems endless). The first Spanish composer to write music evoking the sounds and impressions of his own country in the Romantic manner was Isaac Albeniz, who wrote primarily for the piano. But so colourful is his music that it is frequently transcribed for orchestra, and it is so often evocative of guitar music that guitarists have often made their own transcriptions of it as well. (Albeniz himself never wrote for the guitar.) After the huge piano suite Ib?ria, this six-movement set of small pieces (the largest is four minutes long) is perhaps Albeniz's most popular work. Rather than evoking places in the country, the sections all carry the names of musical forms or dances - Prelude, Tango, Malaguena, etc. This is a primary item in the pianist's storehouse of brief, characteristic music. If Albeniz's works fall into three periods like those of other composers, Espana would belong to the earliest of the three, when Albeniz was a star pianist who composed large quantities of colorful Romantic character pieces for his own use and as part of the process of raising his own profile. The work was composed in 1890 and published in London, where Albeniz had just undertaken a successful tour and signed an exclusive management contract with a promoter. He moved his family to London and remained there for four years, composing music for a Gilbert-and-Sullivan-style operetta while he was there. The English damp finally drove the constitutionally fragile composer back to the Continent.
This arrangement comes with an optional bass part for use with string orchestra.