Episode 12, 2020: de Falla’s Concerto for Harpsichord
Wednesday 23 September 2020
When pianist Wanda Landowska asked composer Manuel de Falla to write a composition inspired by Baroque music, she envisioned the piece to be played on a harpsichord. To this end, Landowska also commissioned the French firm Pleyel to build the instrument for her which they indulged with four 7-and-a-half feet long harpsichords made up of metal frames more powerful than any harpsichord known to JS Bach. Although it took him three years to complete, de Falla, a devout Catholic, was able to translate his love for rituals and sacraments into his music. In the second movement of the composition, one can hear solemn plainchants and the clanging of cathedral bells in the bass notes of the cathedral which were inspired by the yearly Corpus Christi procession the composer witnessed in Seville, Spain in 1922.
Even without the magnificent harpsichords that the composition was first performed on, ANAM Associate Artist Peter de Jager was still able to give justice to the composition when he performed it with fellow ANAM musicians in 2014. Both Peter and Phil Lambert (ANAM Music Librarian) agree that de Falla envisioned this piece with big sonorous sounds, so suitable amplification of the harpsichord is needed for its sound to match the rest of the ensemble. In this ANAM Radio episode, Peter further talks about how de Falla was able to come up with a composition of great strength that seems to look beyond the instrument.
The performance featured here is from ANAM alumna Jessica Foot’s fellowship concert in 2014.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
WATCH THE PERFORMANCE
DE FALLA Concerto for Harpsichord in D major
Jessica Foot (oboe 2008)/director
Kiran Phatak (flute 2013)
Imogen Eve (violin 2014)
Nils Hobiger (cello 2016)
Paul Dean clarinet
Peter de Jager harpsichord
Catch the previous episode, ANAM Radio: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons
Click here to listen to the next episode, ANAM Radio: Finnissy's Ru Tchou