+Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano), *Raquel Lojendio (soprano), BBC Philharmonic, Juanjo Mena
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
Works for Stage and Concert Hall
Nights in the Gardens of Spain+ / The Three-cornered Hat* / Homenajes
The works for stage and concert hall by Manuel de Falla starts off our new Spanish series with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Juanjo Mena.
Nights in the Gardens of Spain is among Falla's most impressionistic and poetic works, full of shimmering textures that recall Debussy, but with a hard-edged precision brought to the forefront by the piano. Each of the three movements is imbued with a strong sense of location. The first evokes the Generalife gardens of the Alhambra in Granada; the second, and most animated, displays a strong North African quality; and the third is inspired by the gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba. Here Falla's lustrous and voluptuous writing is contrasted with a dramatic refrain full of energy, colour, and savagery, and the work offers one of the most sensuous endings in all music. It was performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena, as part of the conductor's debut performance at the Proms in 2011. On this recording, they are joined by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, the exclusive Chandos artist and multi-award winning pianist.
Based on the novel by Alarcón, The Three-cornered Hat was commissioned in 1916 by the impresario Diaghilev for his Russian ballet company, the Ballets russes. Centred round sexual jealousy, possessiveness, mistaken identity, and deception, it tells the story of the failed attempts by an elderly local magistrate (whose three-cornered hat is a symbol of authority) to seduce the miller's lovely wife. The music is exuberant, the principal characters wittily characterised, and the original production itself boasted an incredible wealth of talent: choreography by Léonide Massine, set and costume designs by Pablo Picasso, and the star ballerina Karsavina dancing the part of the miller's wife. It was one of the company's greatest successes, and put Falla on the international map as a composer.
Also on this disc is the Homenajes, in which Falla pays tribute to fellow musicians and composers. 'Fanfare sobre el nombre de Arbós' was written for the seventieth birthday celebrations of the conductor Enrique Fernández Arbós, while 'Pedrelliana' pays posthumous homage to Falla's teacher Felipe Pedrell, who had informed so much of his musical thinking.