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Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
El Amor brujo, ballet for mezzo and orchestra in 1 act, G. 68 (revised version, 1925) [24:22]
Concerto, for harpsichord (or piano), flute, oboe, clarinet, violin and cello, G. 71 (1923-26) [14:29]
Siete Canciones Populares Española (7 Popular Spanish Songs), for voice and piano, G. 40 (1914-18) [12:20]
Four Spanish pieces, for piano, G. 37 (1902-09) [15:38]
Fantasía Baetica, for piano, G. 55 (1919) [11:35]
Marina de Gabarain (mezzo) Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet (Brujo)
Robert Veyron-Lacroix (harpsichord); National Soloists of Spain/Ataulfo Argenta (concerto)
Victoria de los Angeles (soprano); Gonzalo Soriano (piano) (songs)
Alicia de Larrocha (piano) (Spanish pieces, Fantasía)
rec. February 1955, Victoria Hall, Geneva (Brujo); June 1957, London (concerto); 1958, Hispavox, Barcelona (Spanish pieces, Fantasía), December 1961-January 1962 (songs)
Texts, no translations
PRAGA DIGITALS PRD/DSD 350090 SACD [78:53]

I’m not sure I can discern a thread that links Praga’s reissue programme of late. In general it calls on a wide range of source material, from an equally wide range of concert venues. In the case of this Falla disc, its time frame is 1955-62 and it presents some very well-established recordings, almost all of which will be known to those interested in the more historic nature of the composer’s discography.
 
El Amor brujo isheard in the 1955 Geneva recording made by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande. It’s a distinguished reading, though it remains somewhat on the cool side colouristically and rhythmically. Ansermet’s direct, unperfumed style brings out instrumental strands with great precision and he provides good support for the feisty and under-appreciated mezzo Marina de Gabarain, whose singing and idiomatic approach alike are both excellent. Once a Decca staple it makes a good showing here. The Concerto for Harpsichord is played in 1957 by Robert Veyron Lacroix who was a busy recording artist at the time. The ensemble is directed by Ataulfo Argenta. Though best remembered for his recordings of the French repertoire, Veyron-Lacroix relishes the Baroque-tinged energy of the music and responds in allied style. This evocative performance sits well in the collection.
 
A fairly obvious choice for inclusion is the Siete Canciones Populares Española in the 1961-62 recording by Victoria de los Angeles and Gonzalo Soriano, both musicians very well attuned to the music’s syntax. It also made sense to include Alicia de Larrocha’s early 1958 recordings in Barcelona of the Four Spanish pieces and Fantasía Baetica. This last named was written for Arthur Rubinstein. The 1958 recording is rather recessed, even for the time, and Praga hasn’t been able to focus the piano sound optimally - not that they’re accountable for its original deficiencies.
 
The notes lead with a biographical column on de los Angeles and La vida breve, for some reason, and then go on to discuss Falla’s works, without reference to any other musician or recording. Odd. Nevertheless this compilation of material offers a slice of the Falla discography in the late mono/early stereo era. The transfers are good.
 
Jonathan Woolf 



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