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Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
Piano Music - Volume 2
Canción (Song) (1900) [2:16]
Cortejo de los gnomos (Cortege of Gnomes) (1901)[2:18]
Vals-capricho (1900) [3:11]
Canción de los remeros del Volga (Song of the Volga
Boatmen) (1922) [3:39]
Mazurca (1899) [5:23]
Fantasía bética (1919) [13:17]
Los Danzas de La vida breve, (arr. piano) Danse
primera [3:36]; Danse segunda [4:26];
Suite de El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-cornered
Hat) (excerpts) (arr. piano): Danza de la molinera (Dance
of the Miller's Wife) [4:19]; Danza de los vecinos (Dance
of the Neighbours) [3:35]; Danza del molinero (Dance
of the Miller) [2:29]; Danza del corregidor (Dance
of the Corregidor) [2:00]; Danza final (jota) Final
Dance (Jota) [5:17]
rec. Estudios Moraleda, Barcelona, February-March 2005.
dates of works derived from Falla catalogue
NAXOS 8.555066 [55:47]
This present CD concludes the Naxos edition
of the complete piano works of Manuel de Falla (see my review of the first volume 8.555065) – at
least I cannot find any pieces in the Falla catalogue that
not been recorded by them. This present disc has been padded
out to a not-too-generous 55 minutes with some of the composer’s
arrangements of dances from La Vida Breve and El
Sombrero de tres picos. I
find it difficult to convince myself that this CD is good
value for money. I note that BIS managed to cram the ‘original’ piano
works onto one really impressive disc (78 minutes) and I
guess that Naxos could have done this too. However Naxos
claims to have covered the entire corpus of the composer’s
work including the arrangements and the ‘juvenilia’. So perhaps
this is the edition
for the completist, yet I wonder if the ‘train-spotting’ mentality
is entirely appropriate or necessary for Falla’s music?
With the negatives out of the way, I must
say that this is thoroughly enjoyable music. There is always
the danger of sticking a disc like this into the CD player
and through-listening – switching off (mentally at least)
by track 3!
I suggest that listeners take the arrangements
first. This music is well known to all aficionados of Spanish
music – so it needs no introduction or commentary. Yet in
many ways this is the most satisfying material here: full
of Spanish colour, exciting rhythms and exceptionally convincing
pianism. Great stuff!
Perhaps it would have been good if the ‘original’ works
had been recorded chronologically? The programme notes are
hardly comprehensive and offer little help to the interested
listener. In fact very little is said about any of the non-balletic
The longest and probably the greatest of
all the composer’s piano works is the Fantasía bética.
This is a complex piece that extensively and convincingly
explores the world
of Andalusian rhythms, melodies and pianistic colouring.
It was written for, and premiered by, the great Arthur Rubinstein
in London. It is persuasively played by Daniel Ligorio and
as a composition is certainly worth the price of the disc … in
spite of my reservations above.
Other highlights to look out for are the March of the Gnomes and
the gorgeous Canción. Of
course, these early works are to a certain extent ‘salon’ pieces
or even pot-boilers; however they are well written and full
of character. The fine Canción de los remeros
del Volga was written for Falla’s friend, a diplomat called Ricardo
Baeza. It was a tribute to refugees from the Russian Revolution.
This work has definite echoes of Debussy – especially the ‘La
The Vals-Capricho and
the Mazurca are
pleasant but do not claim to add much of value to Spanish
In a previous review I remarked on the
somewhat ‘boxy’ quality of the piano sound in Volume 1. Although
this remains a feature of the present disc, it is less noticeable
The works on this disc, along with those
on Volume 1, are music to get to know. There is a danger
of ‘sameness’ with some of the ‘Iberian’ pieces and this
could be problematic if a listening strategy is not adopted.
I suggest, assuming the listener has both volumes, that he
listens to these works chronologically, rather than in the
order given on the CDs. Or if that is too much like ‘school’ I
recommend picking out a couple of pieces, listen, stop the
player, look at brochures for the Costa Brava, sip a glass
of Rioja and move on to the next number!
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