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Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Noches en los jardines de España (1915) [23:21]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Variations Symphoniques (1885) [15:43]
Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)
Rapsodia Sinfonica (1931) [8:38]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Transcr. Ferruccio Busoni
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV565 (1708?) [8:34]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
La maja y el ruiseñor (1912) [6:05]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La Soirée dans Grenade (1903) [5:41]
Valerie Tryon (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Kenneth Woods
rec. 2-3 May 2012, Henry Wood Hall, London
SOMM SOMMCD 250 [68:57]

Although she was born in Hampshire Valerie Tryon has been resident in Canada for some years, and she is therefore not as well known in Europe as she might be. This disc presents her artistic credentials most effectively, and listening to it one can well understand the enthusiasm of Siva Oke, Somm’s recording producer, who describes her as ‘a true artist of not only unique talent but a musician of great integrity and humility’.
 
Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain was originally conceived for solo piano, but on the advice of the distinguished pianist Ricardo Viñes, the composer recast the music into its present form with orchestra. This intensely evocative piece is in no sense a conventional concerto, and generating an appropriate atmosphere therefore becomes all the more important. The beginning of the first movement, named after the famous Generalife garden on the Alhambra hill at Granada, immediately demonstrates the spare, economical, yet powerfully evocative character of Falla’s musical language. Pianist and orchestra combine successfully in this significant passage, while the recording from Henry Wood Hall is also sympathetic to the needs of the music. This apparently innocuous theme, with its gently oscillating shape and narrow melodic range, generates nearly all the material of the opening movement, while the most striking contrast - a kind of stamping dance - occurs at the soloist’s second entry, marked Poco più animato (a little more animated). Here Tryon’s rhythmic intensity is particularly compelling.
 
This approach sets the tone for the whole performance, which is a match for some illustrious competitors, for example the recordings by Alicia de Larrocha (Decca 4661282) and Clara Haskil (Praga Digitals DSD350064), though these are more advantageously priced. The final movement, generally exuberant and extrovert, is a tour de force based upon the cante jondo, a type of popular Spanish gypsy fiesta which dilutes into a magical conclusion. 

César Franck's musical idiom is intensely personal, developing from the amalgam of a strict classical training and a preference for the rich chromatic harmonies of late romanticism. His single movement piano concerto, under the title Variations Symphoniques, abounds in vitality and imagination, and again Tryon and the RPO are on top form. The alternative expressive approaches are clearly articulated and are wide in their scope: sometimes dreamy, sometimes forceful, sometimes poetic. In the coda, there is the triumphant imagery of heroic romanticism.
 
Joaquín Turina wrote a large quantity of piano music, mostly intimate in mood and inspired by the imagery of Spain. The Rapsodia Sinfonica dates from 1931, the year after his appointment as Professor of Composition at the Madrid Conservatory. Cast in a single movement, it relies upon the fundamental contrast between piano and strings, and this performance captures the music’s flavour within the context of a clear projection of the structure.
 
There are also three additional items, by Bach-Busoni, Debussy and Granados, and these are rather too substantial to be described as encores. As such they form an excellent bonus to this imaginatively compiled programme.
 
Terry Barfoot 



See also review by Dan Morgan


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