Manuel de Falla Collection
As the central figure of Spanish music in the first half of the last century, de Falla (1876-1946) came to define the sound of Spain for listeners beyond its borders. Folk music, romanticism, neoclassicism, modernism: all the prevalent styles of his time were assimilated and absorbed within a personal idiom that advanced the work of notable predecessors such as Albeniz and Granados in establishing a distinctively Spanish idiom for art music, making him a worthy contemporary of other composers outside the central European mainstream from Vaughan Williams in England to Bartók in Hungary and Sibelius in Finland. Falla’s cycle of Seven Popular Spanish Songs is a perfect synthesis of artsong and folksong, performed here in Luciano Berio’s orchestration by Marta Senn and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela under the baton of Eduardo Mata, the Mexican conductor renowned for his dynamic interpretations of Hispanic repertoire. The songs return in their instrumental guise as the Suite populaire espagnole, with the cellist Timora Rosler accompanied by Klára Würtz. Rafael Puyana is a uniquely sympathetic soloist in the Harpsichord Concerto which gave the instrument new life beyond its Baroque associations. Benita Meshulam is widely recognized as the inheritor of Alicia de Larrocha’s mantle with her superbly atmospheric recordings of Spanish piano music.
Manuel de Falla Collection is an honest title, since the five CDs present only a selection of his works, including well-known ones such as Nights in Spanish Gardens, El Amor Brujo, and The Three-Cornered Hat. The recordings with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra from 1981 convey particularly well the intensity of Spanish emotional worlds that Central Europeans like to assume. The round is opened with El Amor Brujo in a striking and lively performance. The interpretation of the Seven popular Spanish Songs, as well as Homenajas let the listener dive into Spanish worlds. The three dances from The Three-Cornered Hat in the version for orchestra will be joined by others in the piano version on a later CD.
For the recordings made in Venezuela, the conductor Eduardo Mata certainly holds the orchestra together and inspires it to effective performances. One could well imagine more sensitivity here, the nocturnal sultriness of the tango instead of the midday heat, so to speak, but there is little more to offer in the way of fire and color. More delicacy without sacrificing the technical quality of the recording is offered by the oldest recording.
In Nights in Spanish Gardens, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra performs under the judicious direction of Günther Herbig. The singers go along with the emotional South American approach, not without delicately savoring the music.
The two pianists offer mature quality. Benita Mehuslam, who has also recorded the complete works for piano by De Falla on the label, is featured here with excerpts, Dances from the The-Cornered Hat and Spanish pieces. In the only chamber work, besides the piano music, Klara Würtz accompanies cellist Timora Rosler on the piano in the Suite Populaire Espagnole. The two artists, who have also won awards as a duo, give the top dance of sensitivity and European noblesse, so to speak, with their interpretation that concludes the collection. Harpsichordist Rafael Puyana from Colombia can show all the registers of his skills in the harpsichord concerto. Here and also in El Retablode Maese Pedro as well as in Psyche the Solistas de Mexico play, again conducted by Eduardo Mata. Those who want to experience this composer intensively will find in this compilation a good opportunity to be infected by the joie de vivre of the music.
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Catalog Number: BRI96353
Label: Brilliant Classics
Number of Discs: 5
Period: 20th Century
Composer: G. Pekkera, Manuel de Falla
Conductor: Eduardo Mata, Günther Herbig
Orchestra/Ensemble: Alberto Grau Cantoria, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Suarez Polyphonic Choir, Schola Cantorum de Caracas, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, Solistas de Mexico
Performer: Benita Meshulam, Carlos Enrique Iglesias, Carlos Silva, Cecilia Angell, Claudio Muskus, Elizabeth Almenar, Elvira Torres, Fernando de la Mora, Hector Talavera Medina, Jorge Luis Negrete Martinez, Julianne Baird, Jutta Czapski, Klára Würtz, Lisbeth Rojas, Maria Eglee Perez, Martha Senn, Rafael Puyana, Timora Rosler, William Alvarado