Falla: Nights In The Gardens Of Spain, The Three-Cornered Hat / Mena, Bavouzet, BBC Philharmonic
There’s always room for another terrific Falla collection, though there’s certainly no shortage of them. Indeed, The Three-Cornered Hat has already been very kind to Chandos: Tortelier’s Philharmonia version is excellent (coupled with Albeniz’s Iberia in the Arbos orchestration). This one is just as fine, maybe even better. Juanjo Mena certainly gets the BBC Philharmonic to wake up from its usual bland, business-as-usual attitude and deliver tangy, idiomatic results. Listen to his perfectly judged rhythmic accents in the Dance of the Miller’s Wife, or his riotously brilliant final Jota. These zesty and energetic sections are more than offset by the poetic stillness of Raquel Lojendio’s lovely offstage soprano solo in Part Two. It’s just an excellent performance, about as good as it gets.
This is just as true of the other works on the disc. Homenajes receives a nicely contrasted interpretation that gives the piece a wider expressive range than usual–the tribute to Debussy is particularly atmospheric. Nights in the Gardens of Spain is marvelous. Bavouzet, as has become clear over the past couple of years, is a very major artist, and his performance has an especially noteworthy vitality and sparkle. So many performance of this work wallow in a sort of droopy, soggy “impressionism.” Certainly Mena and Bavouzet capture the music’s many moods, and they don’t stint on its mysterious, nocturnal tints, but they do it with a welcome rhythmic focus and firmness of outline. For a typical example, consider the vibrant Poco più animato at figure 5 in the first movement. This is great stuff, and the sonics are as bold and tactile as the interpretations.
Catalog Number: CHAN 10694
Composer: Manuel de Falla
Conductor: Juanjo Mena
Orchestra/Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Raquel Lojendio