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de Falla Station

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I could have sworn Manuel de Falla had his own thread here but I seem to be mistaken, so let's start one for this deserving composer. I was listening tonight to his "Suite Populaire Espangnole" performed by violinist Cho-Liang Lin, originally composed as a collection of Spanish songs for voice and piano. Ten years after its premier in 1915, violinist Paul Kochansky arranged six of the songs for violin and piano with da Falla himself contributing the accompaniments. The beautifully haunting "Asturiana" is my favorite of these short virtuosic pieces. One of Spain's most important composers of the 20th century, Falla composed these works after moving to Paris in 1907 where his music was influenced by Ravel, Debussy and Dukas. He returned to Madrid shortly after the start of World War I.

Mirror Image:
No thread on de Falla? ??? This is astonishing! I love his music so much particularly the ballets. Those sweaty Spanish rhythms still resonate with me to this day. I find it interesting that he spent the last years of his life in Argentina and didn't compose a single composition while he was there (I believe he was there for 5 years). He was working on his massive cantata Atlantida, but never finished it.

Firstly, kudos for the thread title!

de Falla, to me, means the following pieces:

Harpsichord Concerto
El Retablo de Maese Pedro
Fantasia Baetica
Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Homenage a Debussy

I have less interest in the more picture postcard Spanishness of some of the other music, but those pieces I listed - goodness me but they are wonderful! I adore the brittle spiciness that happens when the 'otherness' of the Spanishness meets the 'otherness' of the historical or the otherwise alien - the medieval, the Moorish, the mechanical, the show-within-a-show, the ancient. The Harpsichord concerto and El Retablo are for me, then, the heart of de Falla's music, whilst Psyche has this cool, classical languor that is utterly unique. Meanwhile the Fantasia, a startlingly harsh piano work, finds more of the real Spain than any postcard pieces, however bejewelled and wonderful (by Albeniz or Granados etc - bear in mind that i love the best of Albeniz and Granados!). Nights in the Gardens of Spain, whilst more impressionist and less harsh, I simply think is a fabulous piece, so full of throbbing mystery. The Homenage is a tiny piece, not very important in some ways, but it's a perfect gem anyway.

This is the de Falla disc I listen to most often. Given that in the grand scheme of things de Falla is not a composer who figures much in my mind, however much respect I have for the pieces i just mentioned, it's surprising how much time this one gets in my CD player, and that says a lot, I think (the Orbon pieces are fabulous too, an inspired coupling, operating in that same Spanish-Moorish-Medieval zone with music of great force and character - wonderful stuff, a joy to listen to)

Best thread title ever.

Thanks Luke for this. I remember we talked about him before and I dutifully bought the works you recommended, but I found them hard to like in their brittle febrility... maybe it's time to have another go.


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