About this Recording
8.550174 - Viva Espana: The Music of Spain

Music of Spain

Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946)
The Three-Cornered Hat (El sombrero de tres picos)

Suite No.1
Suite No.2

Ritual Fire Dance from El amor brujo
Interlude and Dance from La v Ida breve

Isaac Albeniz (1860 - 1909)
(Excepts from the orchestral arrangement of Iberia by Enrique Fernandez Arbos)
El Corpus en Sevilla
El Albaicin

Manuel de Falla y Matheu was the leading Spanish composer of his generation, writing music that was both acceptable internationally, and yet captured the essence of all that is Spanish. He was born in Cádiz in 1876 and had his first music lessons from his mother, Catalan by birth. His early education was in Cádiz, a city that allowed him to develop his musical talents and interests and introduced him to the music of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, whose nationalist example he resolved to follow. By the age of seventeen he had already decided to be a composer and to write music that expressed in worthy terms the spirit of his own country, something in which his immediate predecessors had had no very significant success. Foreign composers had turned their hand to the composition of Spanish music, but the nineteenth century had produced little of significance, until the advent of the Catalan composers Isaac Albeniz and Enrique Granados, whose achievement Manuel de Falla was to excel.

From Cádiz de Falla moved to the Conservatory in Madrid, where he was joined by the rest of his family, whom he helped to support by writing popular music. The principal musical influence on him in Madrid was Felipe Pedrell, who had also guided Albeniz and Granados towards a new kind of musical nationalism. After some success with other compositions, de Falla wrote music of more lasting worth in his opera La vida breve, completed in 1905 and first performed in Nice in 1913. In the same year it was staged at the Opera-Comique in Paris, at the suggestion of Paul Dukas. By then de Falla had already been in the French capital for six years, in contact with Ravel and Debussy, and broadening his technique in a way that would have been difficult in the relative isolation of Madrid.

In 1914 de Falla returned to the Spanish capital, where his ballet El amor brujo was staged successfully in 1915. The choreographer and principal dancer was Pastora Imperio, wife of the toreador El Galio and daughter of the famous gypsy dancer La Mejorana, from whom the composer derived a more intimate knowledge of this aspect of Spanish tradition. At the same time he began his long study of Cante jondo, the folk music of Andalusia. Meanwhile for the Russian impresario Dyagilev, who had toyed with the idea of making use of Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain), for piano and orchestra, for a Spanish ballet, he wrote the ballet score El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), first staged in London by the Ballets Russes in 1919. In the same year he moved to Granada, where he remained until the end of the Spanish Civil War. In 1939 he accepted an appointment in Buenos Aires and died in Argentina in 1946, his final massive choral work, Atlántida, unfinished, although it had occupied him intermittently for some twenty years.

Manuel de Falla's ballet The Three-Cornered Hat, originally a pantomime under the title El corregidor y la molinera, is based on a story by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. The plot concerns the jealousy of a miller, whose attractive wife has been subjected to the attentions of the senile Corregidor. The ballet was mounted in 1919 with decor by Picasso and choreography by Leonid Massin and includes examples of traditional Spanish dances.

El amor brujo, with its famous Ritual Fire Dance, tells the story of the gypsy girl Candelas, haunted by the spirit of her dead lover, exorcised finally by the ritual dance, which allows her to marry her new lover, Carmelo. The two-act opera La vida breve, written ten years earlier, deals with the jealousy of Salud, whose beloved Paco marries another, to be cursed by Salud, who falls dead of a broken heart at the feet of the one she had loved.

Isaac Albéniz, an older contemporary of Manuel de Falla, was born in the province of Lérida in 1860, and made his debut as a pianist in Barcelona at the age of four, moving with his mother to Paris three years later. Before long he was back in Spain once more, but escaped from his family to give concerts in various parts of Spain and then in South America and the United States. Returning to Europe, he studied for a time on a Spanish scholarship in Brussels, and then attached himself to Liszt, who became his teacher. Other important influences were Felipe Pedrell in Madrid, and Paul Dukas and Vincent d'lndy in Paris, where he was to meet Manuel de Falla in later years. He died in 1909.

The best known work by Albéniz is his piano suite Iberia, the composition of which occupied him during the last three years of his life. Eight of the pieces were arranged by his contemporary, the Spanish composer and conductor Enrique Fernandez Arbós for orchestra. Triana was performed under his direction at the ISCM meeting in Barcelona in 1939, and his arrangements of seven more of the fourteen pieces of the collection won wide popularity.

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratlslava)
The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 at the instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in the sphere of music. Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1970 and in 1977 its conductor-in-chief. The orchestra has given successful concerts both at home and abroad, in West and East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, and Great Britain.

Kenneth Jean Associate Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Rorida Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Jean is a young conductor making his presence known both nationally and internationally. Born in New York City, he grew up in Hong Kong and returned to the United States in 1967 to live in San Francisco. After violin studies at San Franciso State University, he entered the Juilliard School at the age of 19 and was accepted into the conducting class of Jean Morel. The following year, he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of New York and was immediately engaged as the orchestra's Music Director.

Kenneth Jean made his European debut in 1980 at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, Scotland and has since returned regularly. Other orchestras he has conducted include the St. Louis Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Swiss Radio, Park Theatre Orchestra of Stockholm, the Belgrade Strings and the South West German Radio Orchestra of Baden-Baden at the Donaueschingen Festival of Contemporary Music. He was awarded the 1983-84 Leopold Stokowski Conducting Award by the American Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted that orchestra on various occasions, including a subscription concert in Carnegie Hall.

From 1979 until 1985 Kenneth Jean served as Resident Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Previously, he was the Conducting Assistant of the Cleveland Orchestra for two seasons.

He has recorded works by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Ravel for Naxos.

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