Music

Lost and Found

VocalEssence performs a piece thought to have perished undersea

VocalEssence artistic director Philip Brunelle is well known for presenting choral novelties. But he may have outdone himself with the upcoming performance of Enrique Granados’s Song of the Stars, a masterpiece lost for most of the 20th century and only recently rediscovered.

The famed 20th-century Spanish pianist and composer wrote what amounts to a virtuoso piano concerto, commissioned by Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana, which substitutes organ and chorus for the orchestra. Song of the Stars received only a single performance, the premiere played by Granados himself in 1911. He was killed in a U-boat torpedo attack during World War I, and the work was presumed lost.

“In the early 1900s, Granados was much esteemed,” Brunelle says. “It’s fascinating that so masterful a work could have disappeared.”

Pianist Douglas Riva, whose detective work unearthed the composition, will solo, accompanied by the VocalEssence Chorus. The concert is being held at Minneapolis’s Central Lutheran Church to take advantage of its magnificent pipe organ. The VocalEssence Chorus will sing in Catalan, Granados’s mother tongue, celebrating his Spanish nationalism as well as his post-Wagnerian harmonies. In the concert’s first half, the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers will perform several works by contemporary Mexican composers. Riva will open the second half playing solo piano works of Granados. Jan. 28. Central Lutheran Church, 333 S. 12th St., Mpls., 612-371-5656, vocalessence.org

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