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For all its seemingly effortless melodic invention, Nights in the Gardens of Spain took a long time – six years – to achieve its final form, changing from a set of solo piano nocturnes to the programme-concerto we know today. Subtitled ‘symphonic impressions’, it’s a rapt, lushly imagined score, to my ears allegorically pastoral, though Joaquin Turina believed it ‘the most tragic and sorrowful’ of Falla’s works. While there is intensity in each of its three unequal movements, I do not hear tragedy here. Rather, seriousness of purpose is the dominant characteristic, speaking more of the passions – and, yes, their occasional attendant dramas – awakened at night-time.

With a running time of 23-and-a-half minutes, this account from Mari Kodama and the Suisse Romande Orchestra under Kazuki Yamada is on the fleeter side, and while not as fast as Bavouzet’s account on Chandos, yet has a languorous quality that belies the pace. Comparing it to, say, EMI’s classic account from Gonzalo Soriano and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (which takes over 25 minutes), Kodama and Yadama do not quite find the innate Spanishness to the same degree, a curious feature of an otherwise thoughtful and sensitive account given that the remainder of the (orchestral) programme abounds with it.

The longest work here is the ballet The Three-cornered Hat, given a vivid performance from the Suisse Romande, with Sophie Harmsen an idiomatic soloist. This highly entertaining programme finishes with two (or three, depending how you count them) extracts from other Falla works, the ‘Interlude and Dance’from the opera La Vida Breve and the evergreen ‘Ritual Fire Dance’from El Amor Brujo. With finely achieved performances and sound throughout, this is a safely recommendable disc.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing