Albeniz’s four-volume “Iberia Suite” for piano is so sumptuous and varied in mood, color, rhythm and melody--and so demanding of the virtuoso pianist--that you can understand the impulse to orchestrate the work to give it wider exposure. But Lopez-Cobos’ leisurely, broadly generalized account doesn’t make a strong case. There is a coarsening of texture and detail, perhaps more than inevitable when moving from a single instrument to a large ensemble (orchestrations by Enrique Fernandez Arbos and Carlos Surinach). What is usually concise sounds broad and smudged. What has quirky character emerges as airy attitude. The music takes on weight but does not gain strength. It all sounds dangerously close to Spanish-themed wallpaper.
Recordings are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).