About this Recording
8.554498 - FALLA: Songs and Piano Music

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
Songs and Piano Music

Manuel de Falla was an enigmatic man. His music is vibrant, exhilarating and retains a distinctly Spanish flavour whilst being totally original. On meeting the man, however, many spoke of his shyness and his private devotion to his Catholic ideals. Nowhere is this aspect more clearly defined than in his will made at Granada in 1935 which forbade staging his works unless his heirs were in financial need. Thankfully his contractual obligations to his publisher forbade this. For some time Falla's music was neglected. The reasons for this are unclear, as he was an international voice as important to the twentieth century as were Poulenc and, in a different way, Stravinsky.

This recording and the previous Naxos release [8.554366], devised by pianist Len Vorster, spans Falla's compositional career and includes some of the neglected gems of his opus.

The Siete canciones populares españolas (‘Seven Spanish folksongs’) were written in Paris just prior to his enforced return to Madrid due to the outbreak of war. They were written in response to a request from a Spanish singer who had performed in the Paris production of la Vide breve. At this time Falla had also been approached by a Greek singing teacher for advice on harmonizing Greek folk songs. Falla made a draft arrangement of a Greek song and, pleased with the result, decided to set songs from Spain. Luisa Vela with Falla at the piano first performed them in 1915 at the Ateno in Madrid. Although the melodies are mostly original Spanish folk songs, Falla retouched some of the tunes and his brilliant accompaniments underpin both the regional feel of the songs and the inner meaning of the words.

El paño moruno (‘The Moorish cloth’) is from the province of Murcia. It concerns itself with a piece of Moorish cloth that, once soiled, is of lesser value. Seguidilla murciana (‘Seguidilla from Murcia’) is from the same province and tells much the same story. A girl's fickleness is likened to a peseta that is passed from hand to hand until it wears smooth and so, believing it to be false, is ignored. The Murciau Seguidilla is a literary form of a verse in four lines.

Asturiana (‘Song from Asturias’) is a sad lament in which a tree weeps in sympathy with the jilted lover.

Jota is a lively triple time dance from the Aragonese region. It is a tale of secret love. This form of song was traditionally accompanied by a little band called a rondalla.

Nana (‘Lullaby’) is an Andalusian song and there is a distinctly oriental feel to it.

Canción (‘song’) is an apparently breezy song which describes the feeling of renewed strength as the betrayed lover finally buries his feelings.

Polo is the liveliest of all the songs, a wild Andalusian song with harsh guitar figurations and shouts of 'Woe!' from the singer who has discovered love and all its sorrows. The form of this song is a canto jondo or 'deep song' and is probably an original melody by Falla.

There is a salon-music quality to Falla's early piano pieces that only faintly hint at how he would progress. This is not to dismiss them as juvenilia, indeed they are delightful miniatures. The Serenata andaluza, despite its Spanishness, and the Nocturno are examples of the French tinged music of the time. The exuberant Vals­Capricho recalls the spirit of Chabrier and the dazzling piano style of Saint-Saëns.

These works date from the first years of the twentieth century as does the once very popular song Tus ojillos negros (‘Your black eyes’) for soprano and piano to words by Cristóbal de Castro. It is a passionate love song that describes the eternal combination of mad liaisons and sane desires. It is said that Falla was embarrassed by the popularity of this song in the USA when his own style had taken a quite different turn.

The Preludios, for soprano and piano, is an early work to a poem of Antonio de Trueba. It tells of the joy and sadness of first love. For the same combination, Olas gigantes (‘Giant waves’) and Dios mío qué solos (‘My God! How lonely are the dead’) are early settings of words by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. The first is a call from one who cannot bear to be alone with the pain of lost love and asks for nature's force to carry her away. This is very much in the style of a nineteenth century German art song. Dios mío qué solos tells the sad tale of a person witnessing death for the first time and reflecting on the contrast of the vitality of life and the cold loneliness of death. El Pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad (‘Bread from the Ronda which tastes as it should’) was written after Falla's return to Spain. It dates from 1915 and was written in Barcelona. It is the eating equivalent to a drinking song and delivers the ever popular message that if times are good, enjoy them and ponder not on what lies ahead.

Pour le lombeau de Paul Dukas is for solo piano Paul. Dukas had been an immense help to Falla on his arrival in Paris. He introduced him to important artistic contacts including Albéniz, and was responsible for deterring Falla from entering the Schola Cantorum. He also gave him informal lessons on orchestration. Following Dukas death, in 1935, the Revue musicale issued a memorial edition in 1936. There were many contributors including Olivier Messiaen and Joaquín Rodrigo. Within the original texture of the piece Falla hints at the dead composer's Piano Sonata of 1906.

Oracón de las madres que tienen a sus hijos en brazos (‘Prayer for mothers who carry their sons in their arms’) is a short prayer-like song for mothers who will not allow their sons to be soldiers. It was written shortly after Falla's return to Madrid from Paris, in 1914 to a poem by Gregono Martínez Sierra. Despite its brevity, the song is an excellent example of Falla's meticulous attention to dynamic and tempo instructions: there are twenty-two instructions in the twenty-nine bars of music.

Canto de los remeros del Volga (‘Song of the Volga Boatmen’) was written in 1922 but only publicly aired in 1971, at Granada, by Manuel Carra. Since its publication in 1866, the song of the Volga boatmen has been internationally popular. There are many transcriptions and arrangements, notably Stravinsky's for wind and percussion ensemble. Falla's version was written at the request of a diplomat friend, Ricardo Baeza, under an initiative of the League of Nations in support of Russian refugees. It is a fascinating re­working of the song that displays Falla' s fertile harmonic imagination.

Cortejo de gnomos (‘March of the Dwarves’) for solo piano is dated 4th March, 1901, but probably was first heard in 1899. Despite the fact that the composer ignored it during his lifetime, it is a delightful miniature.

Cantares de Nochebuena are arrangements of Spanish folk songs by Falla for soprano, guitar and percussion. They were composed when the composer was studying with Felipe Pedrell, known as the father of Spanish nationalism in music. Pedrell revealed to Falla the riches of Spanish music and it was from this time on that he developed as an original composer but one who was to use his native land and its music as his principal inspiration.

Pastores venir is a call to the Shepherds to visit the child of the Virgin and Saint Joseph. It is a lively song in triple time.

Maravilla nunca vista is a touching duet (both parts performed here by Merlyn Quaife) in which the Virgin Mary's hair spreads out to produce abridge between the earth and the sky.

Un pastor lleva un pavo uses the same melody that Falla used in the sixth of his Siete canciones populares.

En el portal de Belén is another sacred song in which the Shepherds arrive in Bethlehem to worship the Holy Child.

In Por la calle abajito we see the object of someone's affection walking along the street and being pointed out to a friend. But maybe the friend is, in fact, the true love?

Venga la bota. This is a drinking song with the same rhythmic accompaniment as the previous song. As with all drinking songs, the point is to indulge in raucous carousing rather than make any great poetic statements.

1999 Michael J. Easton



Siete Canciones Populares Españolas

1. El Paño Moruno


Al paño fino, en la tienda,

una mancha le cayó;

Por menos precio se vende,

Porque perdió su valor.



Seven Popular Spanish Songs

The Moorish Cloth


The fine cloth in the shop

Became stained;

It will be sold off cheaply

Because it has lost its value.




2. Seguidilla Murciana


Cualquiera que el tejado

Tenga de vidrio,

No debe tirar piedras

Al del vecino.

Arrieros semo;

iPuede que en el camina

Nos encontremos!

Por tu mucha inconstancia

Yo te comparo

Con peseta que corre

De mano en mano;

Que al fin se borra,

Y créyendola falsa

iNadie la toma!


Seguidilla of Murcia


Whoever has a roof

That is made of glass,

Mustn't throw stones

Near the house.

Muleteers are we;

Perhaps on the way

We shall meet up!

Because of your great fickleness

I compare you

To a peseta that passes

From hand to hand;

Finally, it wears away,

And, thinking it false,

No-one accepts it!



3. Asturiana


Por ver si mc consolaba,

Arrime a un pino verde,

Por verme llorar, lloraba.

Y el pino como era verde.




In search of consolation,

I leant against a green pine tree,

It wept to see me weeping,

And how green was the pine!



4. Jota


Dicen que no nos queremos

Porque no nos ven hablar;

A lu corazón y al mio

Se lo pueden preguntar.


Ya me despido de tí,

De tu casa y tu ventana,

Y aunque no quiera tu madre,

Adiós, niña, hasta mañana.

Aunqae no quiera tu madre…




They say we do not love each other

Because they do not see us speaking;

To your heart and mine

They can address that question.


And now I bid you farewell,

At your window in your house,

And although your mother wishes otherwise

Goodbye, my treasure, until tomorrow

Although your mother wishes otherwise…



5. Nana


Duérmete, niño, duerme,

Duerme mi alma,

Duérmete, lucerito

De la mañana.

Nanintu nana




Go to sleep, darling, sleep,

Sleep, my soul,

Go to sleep, little ray

Of morning light.

Lulla, lullaby.



6. Canción


Por traidores, tus ojos, voy a enterrarlos;

No sabes lo que cuesta,

»Del aire«

Niña, el mirarlos.

»Madre a la orilla«

Niña el mirarlos



Dicen que no me quieres,

Y a me has querido…

Váyase lo ganado,

»Del aire«

Por lo perdido,

»Madre a la orilla«

Por lo perdido,





As traitors I shall bury your eyes

You don't know what it costs,

"From the breeze"

Darling, to look at them,

"Mother, at the shore"

Darling, to look at them



They say you no longer love me

That your love is past

Let what is won,

"From the breeze"

Follow what is lost

"Mother, at the shore"

Follow what is lost




7. Polo



Guardo una, iAy!

iGuardo una pena en mi pecho

Que a nadie se la diré!


Malhaya el amor malhaya,


iY quien me lu dió a entender!






I have, Ah!

I have a pain in my heart

That I will tell no-one!


Let Love be damned, be damned


And who taught me to understand this!






Madre, todas las noches junto o mis rejas

Canta un joven llorando indiferencia:

"Quiéreme, niña, y al pie de los altares séras bendita

Quiéreme, niña, y al pie de los altares aeras bendila."


Esta dulce tonada tal poder tiene

Qae me pone al oirla triste y alegre;

Di por qué caasa entristecen y alegran estas tonadas.

Di por qué causa entristecen y alegran estas tonadas.


"Hija, lo que las niñas como tú sienten

Cuando junto a sus rejas a cantar vienen

Es el preludio del poema más,

Grande que hay en el mundo.


"Tornada en Santa Madre la Virgen pura

Tristezas y alegrías en elle turman,

Y este poema es, niña, el que ha empezado junto a tus rajas.


Y este poema es niña, el que ha empezado junto a rus rajas."




Mother, every night outside the shutters of my windows

There sings a youth, bewailing my indifference:

"Love me, angel, and at the foot of the altar you will be blessed

Love me, angel, and at the foot of the altar you will be blessed."


His sweet tones have such power

That they make me sad yet happy when I hear them;

Tell me why these tones cause me happiness and sadness.

Tell me why these tones cause me happiness and sadness.

Daughter, that which maids like you feel

When outside their shutters someone comes singing

Is the prelude to the greatest poem

That there is in the world.


Turn to the Blessed Mother, the Virgin pure

Confide in her your sadness and your joy,

And this poem, child, is what has started outside your shutters.


And this poem, child, is what has started outside your shutters.



Olas gigantes


Olas gigantes que os rompéis bramando

En las playas desiertas y remotas,

Envuelto entre las sábaaa, de espuma,

iLlevadme can vosotras!

Ráfagal de huracán que arrebaláia

Del alto bosque las marchitas hojas,

Arrastrando en el ciego torbellino,

iLlevadme con vosotras!


Nubes de tempestad que rompe el rayo

Y en fuego ornáis las desprendida, orals,

Arrebalado entre la niebla osura,

iLlevadme con vostras!

Llevadme, por piedad, adonde el vértigo

Con la razón me arranque la memoria.

iPor piedad!… iTengo miedo de quedarme

Con mi dolor a solas, con mi dolor a solas!


Giant Waves


Giant waves that break roaring

On beaches deserted and remote,

Wrapped in sheets of foam,

Take me with you!

Hurricane blasts, that beat down

The withered leaves from the high forest,

Dragging the blinding whirlwind,

Take me with you!


Storm clouds broken by the lightning

And with fire you embellish the loose edges,

Beaten down in the black fog,

Take me with you!

Take me, out of pity, to where vertigo

Shall wrench out of me both reason and memory.

Out of pity!…I am afraid to remain

Alone with my pain, alone with my pain!



Tus ojillos negros


Yo no sé qué tienen tus ojillos negros

Que me dan pesares y me gusta verlos,

Que me dan pesares y me gusta verlos.

Son tan juguetones y tan zalameros

Sus miradas prontas llegan tan adentro,

Que hay quien asegura que Dios los ha hecho

Como para muestra de lo que es lo bueno,

De lo que es la gloriu de lo que es el cielo.

Mas, por otra parte, ison tan embusteros!

Dicen tantas cosas que desdicen luego,

Que hay quien asegura que Dios los ha hecho

Como para muestra de lo que es tormento,

De lo que es desdicha, de lo que es infierno.


y es que hay en tus ojos como hay en los cielos,

Noches muy obscuras, días muy serenos,

y hay en tus miradas maridaje eterno

De amorcillos locos y desdenes cuerdos,

Y entre sus penumbras y sus centelleos

Brillantes afanes y tus pensamientos,

Como entre las sombras de la noche obscura

Brillan los relámpagos con su vivo fuego.


Luces que parece que se están muriendo

Y que de improviso resucitan luego.

Sombras adorables, llenas de misterio

Como tus amores, como mis deseos.

Algo que da vida, mucho que da miedo.

Yo no sé qué tienen tus ojillos negros

Que me dan pesares y ime gusta verlos!


Your lovely black eyes


I don't know what is in your lovely black eyes

That weigh me down, yet I love to see them,

That weigh me down, yet I love to see them,

They are so playful and cajoling.

Your glance pierces the heart so quickly,

Some say God made it that way

As if to show what goodness is,

What glory is, what heaven is.

But, on the other hand, it is so deceitful!

It says so many things that it unsays later,

Some say God made it that way

As if to show what torment is,

What unhappiness is, what hell is.


And it is because in your eyes there are, like the skies,

Nights of darkness and days of serenity.

In your glance is the eternal union

Of mad little loves and wise disdains,

And between their shadows and their brightness

Brilliant desires and your thoughts,

As between the shadows of a dark night

The lamps shine with their living fire

Lights that seem to be dying

And suddenly rekindle later.

Adorable shadows, full of mystery

Like your loves, like my desires.

Some that give life, much that cause fear

I don't know what is in your lovely black eyes

That weigh me down, yet I love to see them!



El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad


Aunque todo en el mundo fuese mentira

inos qaeda este pan!

Moreno, tostado que huele a la jara de


iqae sabe a verdad!

Por las calles ton blancas,

bajo el cielo azul,

vayamos despacio,

partiendo este pan

ique sabe a salud!

Y… aunque todo en el mundo fuero mentira

iesto no lo es!

Vivamos despacio

La hora que es buena

iY vengan tristezas después!


The bread of Ronda that tastes as it should


Though all the world were false

This bread still remains to us!

Brown, toasted and smelling of the flowers of

the mountain,

That tastes as it should!

Through the streets so white

Beneath the blue sky,

Let us go softly,

Sharing this bread

That tastes of Health!

And… though all the world were false

This is not!

Let us live softly

The happy hours

And let the sorrows come after!



iDios mio, que solos se quedan los muertos!


Cerraron sus ojos

Que aún tenía abiertos;

Taparon su cara

Con un blanco lienzo;

Y unas sollozando,

Otros en silencio,

De la triste alcoba

Todos se salieron.


La luz, que en un vaso

Ardía en el suelo,

Al muro arrojabo

La sombra del lecho,

Y entre aquella sombra

Veíase a intervalos

Dibujarse rígida

La forma del cuerpo.


Despertaba el día

Y a su albor primero,

Con sus mil ruidos

Dedpertaba el pueblo.

Ante aquel contraste

De vida y misterios,

De luz y tinieblas,

Yo pensé un momento:

iDios mío qué solos

Se quedan los muertos!


My God, how lonely are the dead!


They closed his eyes

That still were open;

They covered his face

With a white linen cloth;

And, some sobbing,

Others in silence,

From the sad bedroom

All went out.


The light, which in a glass

Burnt on the floor,

Threw onto the wall

The shadow of the bed.

And amongst those shadows

Could be seen at intervals

Rigidly drawn

The form of the body.


The day broke

And at its first dawning,

With its thousand sounds

The village woke.

Before that contrast

Of life and mystery.

Of light and shadow,

I thought for a moment

My God, how lonely

Are the dead!



Oración de las madres

que tienen a sus hijos en brazos


iDulce Jesús, que estás dormido!

iPor el santo pecho que te ha amamantado,

Te pido que este hijo mío no sea soldado!


Se lo llevarán, iy era carne mía!

Me lo matarán, iy era mi alegría!

Cuando esté muriendo, dirá:

"iMadre mía!"

Y y no sabré la hora ni el día.


iDulce Jesús, que estás dormido!

iPor el santo pecho que te ha amamantado,

Te pido que este hijo mío no sea soldado!


Prayer of Mothers

with their children in their arms


Sweet Jesus, who art sleeping!

By the holy breast that suckled thee,

I pray that this son of mine be not a soldier!


They will take him away, and he was of my flesh!

They will kill him and he was all my joy!

When he be dying, he will say:

"My mother!"

And I will know neither the hour nor the day.


Sweet Jesus, who art sleeping!

By the holy breast that suckled thee,

I pray that this son of mine be not a soldier!




Cantares de Nochebuena

1. Pastores venir


Pastores venir,

pastores llegar a adorar al Niño,

a adorar al Niño que está en el portal.


En el portal de Belén,

Hay estrella,

Sol y luna,

La Virgen y San José

y el Niño que está en la cuna.


Songs for Christmas Eve

Shepherds come


Shepherds come

Shepherds come to adore the Child

To adore the Child that is in the crib.


In the crib of Bethlehem,

There is star,

Sun and moon.

The Virgin and St Joseph

And the Child that is in the manger.



2. Maravilla nunca vista


Maravilla nunca vista,

cifra que nadie entendió,

parir la Virgen María

al mismo qu la crió,

la Virgen María su pelo tendió

y hechó una cadena

que al cielo llegó.


Marvel never seen


Marvel never seen,

Symbol understood by none,

The Virgin Mary gives birth

To the one who nurtured her,

The Virgin Mary let down her hair

And made a chain

That reached to the heavens.



4. Un pastor lleva un pavo


Un pastor lleva un pavo

y otro un carnero,

y otro lleva la bota del aire

del vino oñejo

madre a la orilla

del vino añejo



One shepherd brings a turkey


One shepherd brings a turkey

Another a sheep

And another brings a leather bottle from the breeze

Of matured wine

Mother, by the shore

Of matured wine




6. En el portal de Belén


En el porto de Belén

Hay estrella,

Sol y luna,

el patriarca José

y el Niño que está en la cuna,

pastores venid,

pastore llegad a adorar el Niño

que está en el portal.


In the crib of Bethlehem


In the crib of Bethlehem

There is star

Sun and moon,

The patriarch Joseph,

and the child in the manger

Shepherds come!

Shepherds come to adore the child

That is in the manger



7. Por la calle abajito


Por la calle abajito,

mira Pepe

va quien yo qaiero

mira Pepe

va quien lo quiero,

no le vide la cara

mira Pepe

con el sombrero,

mira Pepe

con el sombrero


Mal haya sea el sombrero

que tanto tapa,

que tanto tapa,

yo le compraré uno

para la pascua,

para la pascua.


Along the street below


Along the street below,

Look Pepe

Goes the one I love

Look Pepe

Goes the one I love

His face cannot be seen

Look Pepe

Because of his hat

Look Pepe

Because of his hat


His hat be damned!

That covers so much,

That covers so much,

I will buy him one

For Christmas

For Christmas



5. Venga la bota


Venga la bota,

No te la doy,

Porque está rota.


Bring on the bottle


Bring on the bottle

I shan't give it you

Because it's broken


Translations: Nicoletto Pierce

Close the window