Falla • Franck • Turina

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Falla; Franck; Turina
LABELS: Somm
ALBUM TITLE: Falla • Franck • Turina
WORKS: Falla: Nights in the Garden of Spain; Franck: Symphonic Variations; Turina: Rapsodia Sinfónca
PERFORMER: Valerie Tryon (piano); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Kenneth Woods
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD250

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It’s funny how pieces of music go out of fashion. Works such as Franck’s Symphonic Variations and Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain used to be staple concert fare. What went wrong? Perhaps they’re too short; perhaps they’re not flashy enough for modern promoters. One way or another, the single place in which you are most likely to encounter the Franck today is at a performance of Frederick Ashton’s abstract ballet which he choreographed to it back in the 1950s.

Therefore it’s particularly welcome to find a CD devoted to loving and attentive performances of these works, together with Turina’s very appealing Rapsodia Sinfónica. Also shockingly under-programmed, this work – much influenced by the Falla work – was finished in 1931 and has the warmth and flair of fine film music, its two sections evoking steamy Spanish nights to the manner born.

The best moments here are, for the most part, the quietest. For instance, the Franck’s nocturnal interlude before its finale – a sort of darkest hour before the dawn – presents atmosphere that could be cut with a butter knife; Woods draws the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra into a rapt stillness and Tryon merges her playing beautifully into the complete texture. Throughout, she has an impressive sensitivity to the musical canvas as a whole, approaching these mini-concertos almost as chamber works. I couldn’t help finding her playing somewhat underpowered at times – occasionally the Franck’s finale feels oddly as if it is about to run out of steam. The encore fillers seem slightly piecemeal additions, but are appropriately Spanish and enthusiastically played.

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Jessica Duchen