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Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
CD 1 [78:07]
El Sombrero de tres picos (1919) [39:27]
El Amor Brujo (1915) [26:03]
Siete Canciones populares españolas (1922) [12:19]
Victoria de los Angeles (soprano)
Philharmonia/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. rec. 28-30 October, 2 December 1964, No 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London (Sombrero); Philharmonia/Carlo Maria Giulini 16-17 October 1961, 10 April 1964, Kingsway Hall (Brujo); Gonzalo Soriano (piano), 4-6, 8 December 1961, 2-5 January 1962, Barcelona (Canciones).
CD 2 [79:10]
Noches en los jardines de España for piano and orchestra (1909-1915) [25:11]
Concerto in D major for Harpsichord, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Violin and Cello (1923-26) [15:12]
Psyché (1924) [5:20]
Soneto a Córdoba (1927) [2:25]
Quatre Pièces espagnoles (1906-09) [16:29]
Fantasía bética (1919) [14:08]
Gonzalo Soriano (piano), Orchestra de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos 3-4, 8 January 1963, Salle Wagram, Paris (Noches); Gonzalo Soriano (harpsichord), Michel Debost (flute); Robert Kasler (oboe); André Boutard (clarinet); Pierre Nerini (violin); Robert Cordier (cello), 8 January 1963, Salle Wagram (Concerto); Victoria de los Angeles (soprano); Annie Challan (harp); Jean-Claude Gérard (flute); Trio à Cordes Francais; Victoria de los Angeles (soprano); Annie Challan (harp), 17-20 February 1969, Paris; Gonzalo Soriano (piano) 27-30 November 1964, No 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London. ADD

[78:07 + 79:10]


Experience Classicsonline

These are great recordings and deserve their prime place in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series (see review). Yet here they are as a 20th Century Classics double.

Dating from 1961-64 – one item is from 1969 - and recorded by EMI’s engineering aristocracy, these recordings remain nothing short of sensational. Frühbeck de Burgos's full-length El sombrero ballet with its gritty Olés!, sensuous de Los Angeles and the thrilling and rapturously poetic Philharmonia, has not been bettered – though Dutoit and before him, Ansermet, came close. The recording by Victor Olof and Christopher Parker is stunning still. Those serried ranks of castanets rattle the walls to this day. The hiss inherent in analogue stock is lower than that on the recently issued EMI Encore Janáček-Mackerras disc whose recordings were made a couple of years before these. The final strutting exuberant community march has not been excelled in terms of precision, sheer passion and edge-of-seat eagerness. Get it while it is still going. 

Giulini can be heard in El Amor Brujo - over a slightly more assertive hiss - with the same orchestra but this time in the fabled Kingsway Hall. Tenderness and mystery are a large part of the key to success in El Amor Brujo and this can be glimpsed in El circulo magico. De Los Angeles is steady, vibrant and fully identified with what she sings. The enamoured and bell-bedecked Las campanas de amanecer, despite its obvious indebtedness to Petrushka, remains a thing of breath-taking beauty. I have heard an even more passionate version in barbed-wire sound but it has long gone and has never been reissued on CD: Classics for Pleasure CFP 40234. It’s electric, gaudy and visceral - from Irina Arkhipova, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and Arvid Jansons. The same LP included another vivid 1960s performance: Nights in the Gardens of Spain with the Moscow Phil conducted by Rozhdestvensky and the pianist Alexander Iokheles. 

Frühbeck de Burgos and Soriano ensured that their Salle Wagram Noches en los jardines de España (1915) was in the same illustrious company as the conductor's El sombrero. Such a pity they did not record Joseph Marx's Castelli Romana at the same time. It would have made an adroit companion but I suspect that Marx - still alive in 1963 - would have been persona non grata in Paris at the time this recording was set down. At the other extreme from Noches is the Harpsichord Concerto - all dry, busy textures and redolent of the Parisian years of Stravinsky and Martinů. 

Away from the orchestra, but remaining with de Los Angeles, we can also enjoy the Siete canciones populares españolas with pianist Soriano recorded by Victor Olof - brother of violinist Theo Olof - in Barcelona this time. What a lovely cradling song is Nana with its Arabian sultriness and fragrance. Speaking of which the Mediterranean heat of Psyché is here suffused with a decidedly gallic lushness of harmony and melody. De Los Angeles was still in good vocal heart in 1969 as we hear in her dignified Soneto de Cordoba. Soriano leads us reliably and with vision through the colourful Piezas Españolas and the substantial Lisztian Fantasia Betica. 

The discs could hardly be better packed - slightly over and under 79 minutes in each case. The brief and to-the-point note is by EMI regular Julian Haylock. 

Get this while it is still going.

Rob Barnett

Full details of re-mastering history

Manuel de FALLA 
CD 1
El Sombrero de tres picos (1996 Digital Remaster) [39:27]
El Amor Brujo (1987 Digital Remaster) [26:03]
Siete Canciones populares españolas (2001 Digital Remaster) [12:19]
CD 2
Noches en los jardines de España (1987 Digital Remaster) [25:11]
Concerto in D major for Harpsichord, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Violin and Cello (1996 Digital Remaster) [15:12]
Psyché (2001 Digital Remaster) [5:20]
Soneto a Córdoba (2001 Digital Remaster) [2:25]
Quatre Pièces espagnoles (2009 Digital Remaster) [16:29]
Fantasía bética (2009 Digital Remaster) [14:08]
EMI CLASSICS 50999 2 37595 2 7 [78:07 + 79:10]



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