The 12 sections of Iberia are among the most fearsome in the repertoire, and Schaaf acquits himself with distinction. In this immensely challenging panorama of Spanish scenes, he finds poetry and shows that Albéniz's quiet moments can pack the same kind of wallop as those which set the keyboard ablaze. From the opening, a moving account of Evocación, he shows unflagging energy and empathy for the score. Málaga has plenty of atmosphere—one can almost smell the Mediterranean sea air—and Schaaf's glittering account of Jerez (the birthplace of sherry) might have some reaching for a glass to toast his success. Here and there—as in Lavapiés, which Albéniz himself thought might be unplayable—the strain of the composer's demands is evident, but overall, Schaaf's facility and affinity for the composer's colors and evocative rhythms will make many sit up and take notice. Hear the results for yourself (and see his photographs) at

BRUCE HODGES, Seen and Heard International