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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Manuel de Falla, Complete Piano Music, Juan Carlos Rodriguez

Over the years certain compositions by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) have become important to me. His "Nights in the Gardens of Spain" for piano and orchestra, "The Three Cornered Hat," his "Harpsichord Concerto" and his chamber-vocal work "Psyche" all have gotten my ear and become a part of what I regularly listen to and appreciate. When I came across his newly released Complete Piano Music by Juan Carlos Rodriguez (Paladino 0062) I knew I had to hear it.

All his solo piano music fits on a single CD? Yes, apparently. Maestro Rodriguez does a wonderful service with his beautifully idiomatic renditions. As you listen you are reminded that de Falla certainly fits in with Granados and Albeniz, Wikipedia tells us, as THE central Spanish composers of the first half of the 20th century. I can't dispute that. But hearing these solo piano works also gives you an entrance into his music on the most intimate levels, in that way like the piano music of Granados and Albeniz. All three combined Spanish folk strains with lively impressionistic modernisms and a hint of late romanticism, too. And each in his own extraordinary way.

In all the disk contains 13 works, one in four parts. As I've listened over the last week, I found myself very much taken by the music, and wondered why I have not been exposed to it all before? The intersections of self and music are subject to all kinds of nearly accidental meetings. I never came across the piano music for reasons I do not know. But it is all so good, so much de Falla-esque, melodically immediate, so Spanish, so pianistic, I am very happy to make its acquaintance finally. And very happy too that I am introduced to it by pianist Juan Carlos Rodriguez, who seems the perfectly right exponent, very interpretive, very appropriate, very spirited, very much filled with the joy of the music.

I won't run down the program listing. It is complete and what that is has so much good to it that there is nothing superfluous. De Falla may not have written a great deal of piano music but each seems like a gem to me. A big surprise comes toward the end of the program, where de Falla gives us his complete reharmonization of "The Volga Boat Song." It's rather amazing!

And so I heartily recommend this volume to you. I will treasure it! You may well do the same.

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