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Ravel: Piano Concertos; Falla: Nights In The Gardens Of Spain

De Larrocha / Foster / Lpo
Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 002050502   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Maurice RavelManuel de Falla
Performer:  Alicia de Larrocha
Conductor:  Lawrence FosterRafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraPhilharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These performances are uniformly outstanding. Alicia de Larrocha’s natural feel for the subtlety and elegance of French music serves her particularly well in both Ravel concertos. She positively sparkles in the outer movements of the G major and catches the innocent simplicity of the central Adagio assai with complete success. She’s also remarkable in the “Left Hand” concerto, particularly given her notoriously small reach. It almost sounds easy. The jazzy central episode has plenty of spunk, and the concluding cadenza builds effortlessly to the orchestra’s reentry and the sardonic closing bars. The LPO, under Lawrence Foster, couldn’t accompany with more sympathy and point. There are many fine recordings of these concertos, most notably Read more Samson François with Cluytens on EMI, but these performances are as good as any in their musical perception and technical excellence.

Larrocha and Fruhbeck de Burgos in Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain brings together two very experienced veterans of the piece. When this digital recording was released initially it was compared unfavorably to Larrocha’s previous Decca version with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Comissiona, on account of its being somewhat more deliberate, less improvisatory. The truth is that Fruhbeck de Burgos always tended to adopt slowish tempos in Falla—his Ritual Fire Dance is a case in point—and the difference is in any case pretty marginal, with no loss of vigor in the quicker bits of the first movement or finale. It’s just an interpretation built on a larger scale than we’re used to. The sonics also suffered from that early digital glare, and still do, but again, it’s a small quibble about a performance that never lacks stylishness or idiomatic flare.

The Ravel concertos used to come attached to Larrocha’s equally fine recordings of the Fauré Ballade and Franck’s Symphonic Variations (last available from Australian Eloquence), but I can readily understand collectors who find this coupling more appealing. If you do, then go for it.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Alicia de Larrocha (Piano)
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1931; France 
2.
Concerto for Piano left hand in D major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Alicia de Larrocha (Piano)
Conductor:  Lawrence Foster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 
3.
Nights in the gardens of Spain by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Alicia de Larrocha (Piano)
Conductor:  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1915; Spain 
Date of Recording: 07/1983 
Venue:  Walthamstow Town Hall, London 
Length: 25 Minutes 0 Secs. 

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