Falla: Nights in the gardens of Spain

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Falla: Nights in the gardens of Spain; Fantasia baetica; Four Spanish Pieces; Mazurka etc
PERFORMER: Javier Perianes (piano); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Josep Pons

Javier Perianes has taken the trouble to check his scores against autographs and early editions in the Falla Archive in Granada. This is of course entirely laudable, but it creates difficulties for a reviewer who cannot be sure whether discrepancies with the score he has are authentic or pianist-made. And discrepancies there are, not so much in actual notes as in tempo and dynamic markings. I am inclined to be charitable by the good musical sense of most of them.
Perianes has a good feeling for musical colour, the only downside to which is a fairly generous use of sustaining pedal – in the Fantasia baetica, for example, he produces great washes of sound, not all of which are harmonically convincing. Also staccato markings, whose authenticity would seem to be guaranteed by their ‘guitaresque’ provenance, are not always as sharp as they might be. Even so, this Fantasia comes over with tremendous élan, not to say brutality.
In the Nights in the gardens of Spain the text is the one we know, and both pianist and orchestra revel in its colouristic opportunities. Perianes employs the subtlest of rubatos here, teasing us with little delays and hurry-ups before joining the orchestra on the main beats. Thanks to the conductor these are firmly under control, affording a satisfying interplay between fantasy and rigour. Roger Nichols