1999, Music

Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Angela Cheng and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

This seems to be an attempt to collect Spanish piano concertos from the last 150 years into one spot. We have Isaac Albeniz’s “Spanish Rhapsody” from 1887, Joaquín Turina’s “Symphonic Rhapsody” from 1931, de Manuel Falla’s title track from 1915, and Xavier Montsalvatge’s “Brief Concerto” from 1953.

The result of a survey of something like that, spanning nearly 100 years but focusing on one country, is slightly uneven. Some of the music does not really fit: we have Romanticism, we have Impressionism, and then we have modernism and, because of its date of composition, what might be called Neo-Romanticism. The Spanish sound seems present in all, but beyond that it is hard for me to figure out how they fit together.

That being said, the music is all rather nice and sometimes very impressive. It’s just not the greatest selection. I would argue that it would be better to put Montsalvatge on something with his contemporaries, rather than lumping him in with older Spanish composers.


  • Op. 70: Rhapsodia Espagñola for piano by Isaac Albéniz
  • Noches en los jardines de España, G. 49 by Manuel de Falla
    • En el Generalife (In the Generalife): The first gardens are in the Generalife, the jasmine-scented gardens surrounding the Alhambra.
    • Danza lejana (A Distant Dance): The second garden is an unidentified distant one in which there is an exotic dance.
    • En los jardines de la Sierra de Córdoba (In the Gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba): The third set of gardens are in the
    • Sierra de Córdoba. The best-known inhabitant of the gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba was the Sufi philosopher Ibn
    • Masarra, and the dances depicted here are presumably Sufi dances.
  • Rapsodia sinfónica Op. 66 (1931) for piano and string orchestra by Joaquín Turina
  • Concierto breve (1953) for piano and orchestra by Xavier Montsalvatge i Bassols

Performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Graf featuring Angela Cheng on Piano

Produced by Anton Kwiatkowski, Engineered by Geoff Rowland

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