Lockdown is almost over, so for those missing travelling abroad in 2020, I’ll attempt to bring abroad to you in a small way. Spain often is overlooked in Classical music by the music of Italy, France and Germany but those who overlook it are really missing out on some gems here. I re- ally couldn’t narrow it down to two pieces, so I’ll be brief about three; the first two by Spanish composers, and the third inspired by Spain.
Concierto de Aranjuez - 2nd movement, 10 minutes
You’ll know it when you hear it. A serene middle movement in the most well known guitar concerto, introduced by a sultry Cor Anglais solo, and sees the guitar takes back seat to the orchestra developing one of clas- sical music’s most recognisable tunes.
Paco de Lucia’s recording is the go-to here.
Ritual Dance - from El Amor Brujo, 4 minutes
Probably one of the most famous pieces of classical music which nobody knows who wrote it or where it came from. The Ballet “The Bewitched Love” was written in 1915, and this dance evokes worship of the fire-god. The trills are reminiscent of the Flight of the Bumblebee; out of the humming in the strings and clarinets comes a sharp stomping piano accompaniment to another provoc- ative oboe melody which swells as it is played by larger forces, calms down, and builds to a roaring finish.
Leonard Bernstein’s recording with the New York Philharmonic is slight- ly spookier than the rest.
Rapsodie Espagnole - 15 minutes in/Second movement, 2 mins
Wait- didn’t I recommend Ravel last week too? Yes, and you can’t stop me recommending him again, because his music is really fantastic. I made the mistake of listening to the Malaguena (a flamenco dance) the day be- fore exams last year and it drilled itself into my head, and when I finally got it out, it was soon replaced with the 4th movement Feria (a Festive dance). Both are full of energy, perfectly contrasted by the mysterious 1st movement and easy-going Haba- nera movement. I won’t say any more as this is really one to explore by yourself.