Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) Piano Music Volume 2
Canción (1900) [02:16]
Cortejo de los gnomos (1901) [02:18]
Vals-Capricho (1900) [03:11]
Canción de los remeros del Volga (1922) [03:39]
Mazurca (c.1899) [05:23]
Fantasia bética (1919) [13:17]
2 Dances from “La vida breve” (1913) [08:02]
Suite from “El sombrero de tres picos” (1919) [17:39]
rec. February-March 2005, Estudios Moraleda, Barcelona NAXOS 8.555066 [55:47]
This second volume completes Ligorio’s survey of de Falla’s piano
music (see review of Volume 1 - 8.555065). Even with the
completion and editing of some unfinished ballet and opera transcriptions
Recently I listened to
Baselga’s single BIS record which shows that the original
piano music, including the juvenilia, fits neatly onto one
generously timed CD.
Still, we will not doubt Ligorio’s labour of love. I compared
him with Baselga in the first two pieces listening on headphones.
The Naxos recording sounded impressively rich, the BIS a
little less immediate. But listening to the rest of the programme
over loudspeakers the Naxos sometimes seemed clattery in
loud passages, the BIS full-toned but with good perspective.
As to the performances, I thought at first Ligorio was getting
a little more out of the music. At a slower tempo his “Canción” sounds
even more like a spare Satie Gymnopčdie and his “Cortejo
de los gnomos” is amusingly grotesque. Baselga is good but
slightly bland in comparison. On the other hand, Ligorio
plays the “Vals-Capricho” drily and mechanically, as if for
a puppet show. It’s an idea, but here Baselga’s nostalgic
rubato and warmer textures seem to find more in the music.
Honours are even, I’d say, in the bleakly Stravinskian setting of
the “Song of the Volga Boatman”. Why insert it in the group
of early pieces, though? Ligorio’s “Mazurca” has more of
the Mazurka feel to it though Baselga’s more inflected version
has its attractions.
This is probably not music you need to hear often but it’s important
to have a good “Fantasia bética” – de Falla’s one masterpiece
for solo piano. Ligorio is good but he sounds a little laboured
in certain passages beside Baselga.
Ligorio has compared the published versions of de Falla’s transcriptions
with the composer’s sketches in an attempt to come up with
a version which is as close as possible to the orchestral
score. His notes give minimum information. The second dance
from “La vida breve” and the final “Jota” from “Sombrero” are
recorded for the first time so I presume they were not actually
completed and published. This latter emerges as rather lumpy,
not quite the scintillating finale it can be on the orchestra.
Did de Falla not complete it because he had doubts? On the
whole, while Ligorio plays these transcriptions well he does
not convince me they are a genuine alternative to the colourful
While recognizing that Ligorio scores over Baselga in a few of the
early pieces my recommendation is fairly clear. Go to Baselga
for the complete original music on one disc, and get good
orchestral versions of the ballet and opera extracts. Or
go to Alicia de Larrocha (Decca), who chose what she presumably
thought the best of the original pieces and added a few of
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