Falla: La Vida Breve (CD)

Current Stock:
BBC Philharmonic, Juanjo Mena

La vida breve is the first great work by Manuel de Falla, not only on account of the brilliance of his achievement, but also because in this score the powerful musical personality of the composer shines through. It introduces an orchestral scope that was previously unheard of in Hispanic musical theatre; there are direct references to folklore; there is the very remarkable role of the choir, and the incredible ability to evoke the magic of the Albaicín in Granada. The idea of the story came to Falla when he read, in the periodical Blanco y Negro, a short poem of clear social content, written by Carlos Fernández-Shaw, which would become the heart of the libretto. ‘I am filled with emotion at the prospect of releasing this disc, because for all Spanish conductors Manuel de Falla’s La vida breve is the highpoint of Spanish opera and a fundamental work in our repertoire.’ – Juanjo Mena

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Falla: La vida breve

Segundo Falcón (vocals), Gustavo Peña (tenor), Vicente Coves (guitar), Raquel Lojendio (soprano), Cristina Faus (mezzo-soprano), Josep Miquel Ramón (baritone), Nancy Fabiola Herrera (mezzo-soprano), Aquiles Machado (tenor), José Antonio López (baritone)
Spanish Radio and Television Chorus, BBC Philharmonic, Juan José Mena

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When he was a young man Manuel de Falla wrote a series of five zarzuelas, Spanish folk-operas (of which only one was ever performed), but his first opera proper was la Vida Breve, Life is short, which was written in 1904-5 and only premiered almost a decade later …then rewritten almost immediately, supposedly in response to Debussy’s criticism. It is an odd work, consisting of as much instrumental as vocal music, and listeners may find they are familiar with some of the music due to the continuing popularity of a few colourful excerpts. Although it was Falla’s first major achievement, la Vida Breve is rarely performed even today, and it is pleasing to have the opportunity to hear it in its entirety: as the conductor, Juanjo Mena says, “Manuel de Falla’s La Vida Breve is the highpoint of Spanish opera”. With a cast of singers who are all native Spanish-speakers and the BBC Philharmonic, this recording will hopefully win more admirers for Falla’s neglected breakthrough work.

- Chris Dench, The Classical Music Collector