de Falla Ballets IBS82023

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
El corregidor y la molinera (The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife) (1917)
El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) (1919)
Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga/José Maria Moreno Valiente
rec. 2022, Auditorio Carranque, Toledo, Spain
IBS Classical IBS82023 [78]

The raison d’être of this release is to present Manuel de Falla’s well-loved and much recorded ballet The Three-Cornered Hat. The added value is a performance of that piece’s precursor, El corregidor y la molinera, a “scenic farce” or “pantomime in two acts”. The “book” was an adaptation by María Sierra of Pedro Antonio de Alarcón’s El sombrero de tres picos, itself based on the old Iberian romance El molinero de Arcos. El corregidor, conceived for seven actors and a dozen or so instrumentalists, was premiered in 1917. Sergei Diaghilev then convinced the composer to modify the pantomime to give it “a greater theatrical structure”, so de Falla began a major revision, which would become his well-known ballet.

The story concerns a miller and his wife, and their relationship with the corregidor (magistrate) who has amorous intentions towards the lady. He falls into a stream, takes refuge at the mill, and dries himself out. The miller pinches the magistrate’s cloak and his three-cornered hat, and leaves a note saying that he has departed to pay his respects to the magistrate’s wife. On finding the missive, the corregidor puts on the miller’s old clothes, leaves the mill, and is arrested by the local policeman. The locals enjoy his downfall.

The liner notes present a problem. I found them difficult to read; they are verbose and often tangential to the matter at hand. It would have helped to read about the changes that de Falla made to El corregidor y la molinera, a difficult task without the scores. One hears many similarities, yet there are differences. The Fandango: Danza de la molinera is similar in each score, as is the Seguidillas. But new material has been introduced. The conclusion develops in a different manner, and there is a brand-new Farruca for the miller. It would have also been good to see a detailed synopsis of each work’s progress.

There is another point of interest: the original El corregidor was scored for a chamber orchestra with piano, so each character had their own instrument. This recording uses full orchestra. Who did the rescoring? I may be missing something…

The liner noted aside, this is a remarkable disc. I enjoyed listening to both compositions. They are full of Spanish wit, musical clichés and sunshine. They get fine performances from the mezzo-sopranos Carol Garcia and Serena Pérez, and from the Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga under the baton of José Maria Moreno Valiente. The recording is excellent.

John France

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