Jason Cutmore's program of the piano music of Manuel de Falla nicely mixes the familiar with the unfamiliar. The most well-known selections are from Falla's ballets El Sombrero de tres Picos and El Amor Brujo, both transcriptions made by the composer, and the Quatro Piezas Españolas. Most of the other pieces are probably known among fans of Spanish piano music, but not more widely than that. Falla's piano music may not be as strongly flavored with the feel of Spanish folk music as Albéniz's, but the influence is there, and in Cutmore's reading, it is evenly balanced with the French orchestral colors that are often in Falla's music. In fact, Cutmore ends the program with Falla's Pour le Tombeau de Paul Dukas, a stately, somber, and elegiac processional that is, naturally, not Spanish-sounding at all; and a dreamy brief Novelette by Poulenc based on a theme from El Amor Brujo heard in the first track here. Cutmore doesn't overemphasize or pounce on the dance rhythms in the Quatro Piezas or the dances from El Sombrero, but they are not brushed over either. He has an ease with the music that can make it pensive or dreamy without giving into an overuse of rubato, keeping it moving, yet not rushing it either. He breezes through the more virtuosic passages in the "Ritual Fire Dance" and the "Fantasía Baetica," with a very capable technique that can make an impression without sacrificing notes, but which also makes sure notes are clear without sacrificing phrasing and shaping. The sound of the recording isn't exactly warm, but it does have a rounded quality to it that suits the music and Cutmore's playing very agreeably. It all makes for a fine introduction to Falla's pinao music for anyone.
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AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|El Amor brujo, ballet for mezzo-soprano & orchestra in 1 act, G. 68 (revised version)|
|Spanish pieces (4), for piano, G. 37|
|El Sombrero de tres picos, suite from the ballet for piano|