WORKS: Complete Solo Piano Music
PERFORMER: Miguel Baselga (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-773
Playing Falla in date order makes an odd-shaped recital: the tail is at the front. But it gives a graphic portrait of an explorer. The Spanish presence steadily insinuates itself until it grows fiercely concentrated, finally almost aphoristic.
Baselga, an individual pianist in this very personal music, plays the Piezas españolas intensely, with plenty of staccato and a free pulse, scorning easy charm to find strength. In the stupendous Fantasía bética he lets the rhythms take hold gradually and locates the full gypsy-like restlessness of the ultra-ornamented melody at the centre. His ear for balance and virtuoso control of pace are compelling, but short of the ultimate physical exultation.
Around these peaks he browses rewardingly, with more warmth and more pedal for the early pieces, relieving the often dry piano tone. It’s the mature and late works that awaken his interest most, and these include the quirkiest of them. Imagine the ‘Song of the Volga Boatmen’ in the style of Pictures at an Exhibition and you’re halfway there: an improbable political commission that Falla met at full power. Robert Maycock