SMU really is fortunate to have had the great Joaquin Achucarro on its piano faculty for the past 25 years. (Everyone who knows me knows how appealing it was for me to join a university with very strong performing arts programs.) I thought of Achucarro, who just turned 84, in early November when I attended a performance of the Schumann piano concerto by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with Ingrid Fliter as guest artist and Pinchas Steinberg guest-conducting. The piece had last been performed by the DSO in September 2012 with, yes, Achucarro himself playing the piano under the baton of Jaap van Zweden. In the performance I attended, Fliter kept jumping up and down on her bench like a puppet jerked in all directions, her flowing hair falling into her face. I had seen Fliter at the 92nd Y back in 2011 in a program of Beethoven sonatas and I don't remember her as being so over-the-top. In Dallas she was so ridiculously overdramatic (people laughed in the audience) that I found myself yearning for an artist who doesn't try to steal the show away from the composer and lets his playing speak for itself - a consummate professional like Achucarro. Anyway, I felt sorry I missed Achucarro playing this great concerto by only four years.
By coincidence, the students in his master class presented an event connecting music - piano recital - and literature - poetry reading - at SMU Meadows the other day, with music by Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Debussy and Ravel, and texts by Petrarch, Goethe, Shakespeare, Verlaine and Bertrand. I wish more of Achucarro music was available on Amazon.com but I still recommend the few recordings on sale (Schumann: Fantasy and Kreisleriana, Schubert and Schumann: Masters of Art, Brahms Piano Concerto No 2, Musica Espaola Por Un Poeta Del Piano) - as a side note, I find it fascinating that Achucarro didn't go the route of his contemporary Alicia de Larrocha in making a primary reputation for himself as advocate for Spanish composers such as Albeniz and Granados, although he did play them to some extent and you can find his Granados recording on YouTube. He was just as well-known for his playing of Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Brahms. Performances available on YouTube include the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor and the Mozart Piano Concerto K.467, although I hope you will consider buying the music so that he can receive royalties.
Below is a video posted on the YouTube channel of SMU Meadows, to honor Achucarro's 25 years of teaching at SMU, with a few musical excerpts by himself and his students and plenty of good words from people who know him, including SMU President Gerald Turner himself. The concert given in his honor is described here. Dallas is fortunate to count Achucarro among its residents.