FALLA Noches en los jardines de Espana
This is a disc to lift the spirits. Whether the music is sultry, strenuous or sunny, Javier Perianes plays with an infallible ear for style, atmosphere and colour. Most of the works here testify to their composer’s nationality, harnessing as they do distinctive Spanish inflections of rhythm and melodic shaping, but there are exceptions. An early Nocturno and Mazurka from the 1890s show that, as with Falla’s Russian contemporary Scriabin, the influence of Chopin was still making itself felt half a century after his death. A Canción from 1900 has the languid air of a Chopin nocturne beautifully crafted above a hypnotic bass-line reminiscent of a Satie Gymnopédie. A much later piece, the solemn and harmonically piquant Pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas of 1935, is more difficult to place, although the textures and timbres seem to have their origins in the French music with which Falla became familiar during his sojourn in Paris during the years before the First World War.
Surprisingly enough, given that he was such a remarkable pianist, Falla wrote comparatively little for his own instrument. Most of it – but not quite all – is recorded here, with the Cuatro piezas españolas showing how vibrantly and sensitively he could summon up the sensuality and exuberance of Spanish musical traits. The Fantasia Baetica, written for Arthur Rubinstein, does so with particular force, and in the Nights in the Gardens of Spain the BBC Symphony Orchestra joins Perianes for a performance of panache and captivating flair and freshness.