Flamenco and the Music of Manuel de Falla: A Piano Perspective

2017-03-26T23:27:21Z (GMT) by Zen Zeng
Twentieth-century Spanish piano music is significantly shaped by the works of Manuel de Falla. The Spanish composer’s classical stylization of flamenco marks a profound marriage between piano and flamenco, and remains a significant reference for contemporary musicians of Western art music and flamenco. However, performers of Falla’s early twentieth century piano repertoire often fail to take into account the evolving nature of flamenco, as well as the composer’s understanding and intended use of flamenco materials in each compositional period, leading to interpretations shaped by stereotypes of the exotic and passionate images of Andalusia. This study argues that there is no stereotypical ‘Spanish’ template for interpreting fin-de-siècle Spanish piano repertoire, and challenges prescribed interpretations of Falla’s piano music.
   Building on my own performance practice of both piano flamenco and fin-de-siècle Spanish piano music, this study undertakes a close musical examination of the evocations of flamenco idioms in Falla’s music, discusses the identification and interpretation of a range of flamenco idiosyncrasies in Falla’s music scores, and interrogates how Falla’s adaptations of flamenco evolved as his compositional vocabulary expanded. By providing critical commentaries on iconic and historical recordings of Falla’s piano music, this study subsequently offers some new practical performance strategies to interpreters of this repertoire.