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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]
Daniel Ligorio (piano)
rec. Estudios Moraleda, Barcelona, February-March 2005. DDD
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 have 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 works.
 
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 cathédrale engloutie’.
 
The Vals-Capricho and the Mazurca are pleasant but do not claim to add much of value to Spanish piano literature.
 
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 here.
 
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!
 
John France
 



 


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