Falla: Atlántida (ed. Halffter)

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LABELS: Valois
WORKS: Atlántida (ed. Halffter)
PERFORMER: Simon Estes, Maria Bayo, Teresa Berganza; National Youth Orchestra of Spain/Edmon Colomer
Falla worked on his ‘scenic cantata’ Atlántida for nearly a third of his life – from 1927 until his death in 1946. On his instructions, it was revised and completed by his pupil Ernesto Halffter, and this is the only available recording of Halffter’s second and definitive version of 1976.


The work is based on an epic poem of Jacinto Verdaguer and evolved into a prologue and three parts. It is an extraordinary hybrid in which the legend of the City of Atlantis is combined with the story of Christopher Columbus, with the underlying theme of the arrival of the Catholic faith in the New World.

Simon Estes is rather stentorian in the high-lying lines of the Narrator who bridges most of the scenes, participating with the chorus and commentating on the unfolding drama. The female characters occupy the centre of each part of this work and provide the more lyrical elements. Teresa Berganza’s inimitable cloudy edge characterises Pirene’s aria with weighty sadness. The seven soloists in ‘The Gamesof the Pleiades’ are rhythmically driven but delicate, even ethereal, and ‘Isabella’s Dream’ is sung with a haunting sweetness by Maria Bayo.


In Atlántida’s powerful, broad musical canvas – with its shadesof neo-classical Stravinsky andripe Scriabin – the protagonist isthe chorus. The four choirs and children’s chorus on these discs are excellent advocates of Falla’s work and the National Youth Orchestra of Spain displays versatility under the superb direction of Edmon Colomer. Elisse McDougall