Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2015 by Fred Flaxman


Program 244
"Best Music of 1915, Part 2: De Falla"

MUSIC: De Falla: excerpt from beginning of El amor brujo / Love, the Magician: Pantomime performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Simon [Chandos CHAN 10232X, Track 11] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to the “Best Music of 1915, Part Two: Manuel de Falla.” I’m Fred Flaxman and this is Compact Discoveries.

When I looked back a hundred years or so to 1915, I found that some very beautiful classical music was written in that year. In fact, so much, that I could not possibly have  fit all my favorites into one hour. So Part One of  “Best Music of 1915” included music by Manuel Ponce, Siegfried Wagner, Béla Bartók and Albert Ketèlbey. If you missed it, you can listen to it on demand any time you like at compactdiscoveries.com. It was program number 243.

“The Best Music of 1915, Part Two” will be devoted to a single Spanish composer, Manuel De Falla, who wrote two of his best orchestral pieces that year: Noches en los jardines de España / Nights in the Gardens of Spain and El amor brujo / Love, the Magician.

MUSIC: Fades out

Let’s start with El amor brujo. The reason, I think, that the title is usually given in Spanish is because it is difficult to translate into English. “Amor,” everyone knows, is love, but what about the “brujo”? What exactly does that mean?

Well, it can mean wizard, shaman, or sorcerer, according to one internet free translation site. The same site translates the title, El amor brujo, as “The Enchanting Love” or “The Witcher Love.” Perhaps they mean “The Witch’s Love” since there’s no such word as “witcher” in English. Other alternatives are “The Demon Love,” “The Spectre’s Bride,” and “Wedded by Witchcraft.” But by far the most common English title for this piece is “Love, the Magician.”

In any case, the work came into being at the suggestion of the celebrated Spanish flamenco dancer, Pastora Imperio. She asked de Falla to write something especially for her famous dance troupe. He did just that, producing a theatrical work which would reflect the flavor of gypsy music without using actual folk material.

In its original form, El amor brujo was a one-act ballet with songs and dances based on an old Andalusian legend. The first performance, which was by the Imperio family and a chamber ensemble, took place in Madrid in 1914 but was not a success. De Falla revised the work into a concert suite and in its new guise was first heard the following year. It became De Falla’s most popular work.

In this Chandos Classics compact disc recording the London Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Geoffrey Simon. Sarah Walker is the mezzo-soprano.

MUSIC: De Falla: El amor brujo / Love, the Magician performed by the London Symphony Orchestra with mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker, conducted by Geoffrey Simon [Chandos CHAN 10232X, Tracks 1-13] [25:33]

Manuel de Falla’s El amor brujo / Love, the Magician. The London Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Geoffrey Simon. Sarah Walker was the mezzo-soprano.

You are listening to a second hour of Compact Discoveries devoted to “The Best Music of 1915.” This hour is devoted entirely to the music of Manuel de Falla.”  I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing of the program]

El amor brujo / Love, the Magician was one of two great De Falla pieces to be completed in 1915. The other was Noches en los jardines de España / Nights in the Gardens of Spain. The Chandos CD that we just heard contains both of these pieces, with Margaret Fingerhut the pianist in the second piece.

Nights in the Gardens of Spain began life as a set of nocturnes for piano solo in 1909. The version for piano and orchestra was not completed until De Falla returned to Spain at the outbreak of World War 1. In this form it received its first performance in Madrid in 1916.

I’d like to read to you what De Falla himself wrote about these three symphonic impressions which combine into a rhapsodic tone poem:

“The end for which this work was written is no other than to evoke places, sensations and sentiments. The themes employed are based on the rhythms, modes, cadences and ornamental figures which distinguish the popular music of Andalusia.  The music has no pretentions to being descriptive — it is merely expressive.  But something more than festivals and dances have inspired these ‘evocations in sound,’ for melancholy and mystery also have their part.”

The three movements are called In the Generalife, Distant Dance, and In the Gardens of the Sierra de Cordoba.

MUSIC: De Falla: Noches en los jardines de España / Nights in the Gardens of Spain, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra with pianist Margaret Fingerhut, conducted by Geoffrey Simon [Chandos CHAN 10232X, Tracks 14-16] [24:14]

Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Manuel De Falla. The London Symphony Orchestra with pianist Margaret Fingerhut was conducted by Geoffrey Simon.

And that concludes this hour devoted to “The Best Music of 1915, Part Two: Manuel De Falla.” If you missed part of the program or would like to hear it again, you can stream it on demand at compactdiscoveries.com. This is program number 244. And this is your guide to Compact Discoveries, Fred Flaxman, thanking you for listening.

MUSIC: De Falla: excerpt from beginning of El amor brujo / Love, the Magician: Pantomime performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Simon [Chandos CHAN 10232X, Track 11]  [fades out]

ANNOUNCER (Tana Flaxman): Production of Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida... and by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz…  Art and Eva Stevens... Shelley and Gilbert Harrison… the CD companies that supply the recordings used…  and ArkivMusic.com  the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles. Broadcast of the programs by public radio stations is made possible by listeners who contribute to those stations. Streaming-on-demand is made possible by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

Program Ends at 58:00