Falla: El sombrero de tres picos; Noches en los jardines de España

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Falla
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: El sombrero de tres picos; Noches en los jardines de España
PERFORMER: Josep Colom (piano); Granada City Orchestra/Josep Pons
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901606
Setting a Catalan conductor and soloist to work with an orchestra from Andalucia makes one thing certain: they don’t try too hard to sound Spanish. Instead of laying on the fake exoticism and garish colours like some orchestras in northern countries, they get on with making music. This they do with elegance, direct enjoyment of the sound and, in El sombrero, a strong sense of character.

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They are good at the action-scenes where quick responses are vital. Well-sprung rhythm carries over into the set-pieces, whether aggressive or delicate. Some of Pons’s speeds are quite relaxed but they come to life like a well-toned muscle. A brisk, bright finale overcomes the resonance: the auditorium named for Falla isn’t kind to his bass lines.

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In Noches the subtle pianist belongs inseparably to the whole, aware of when to blend and when to assert himself. He’s sparky when he needs to be, but the defining moment is the very broad, powerful climax of the opening ‘Generalife’ evocation where the orchestra rises, overwhelms and retreats to leave him quietly unruffled. Another momentous expansion of pace and feeling closes this superbly judged performance. Robert Maycock