Tatiana Roitman Mann’s Take on De Falla’s “Nights in the Gardens of Spain”

By: Tatiana Roitman Mann

At this weekend's Masterworks concert, "Tchaikovsky's Passion," pianist Tatiana Roitman Mann will perform alongside the ASO in De Falla's Nights in the Garden of Spain. In this blog, Mann takes us through the musical intracacies of the featured piece :

Written in 1915, this work is a collection of three movements - impressions of gardens in the southern Andalusia region of Spain. Colorful and vibrant like the country and its history, garden evenings are full of veiled mystery and hidden images. De Falla explores pianistically a vast color palette.  In this work, the composer fully shows off the piano's dominant percussive capabilities within its nature, as well as its penchant to be a chameleon instrument - possessing the ability to transform through imitating touch and timbre.

The opening movement, En el Generalife (In the Generalife) depicts beautiful jasmine-filled gardens. Rippling sounds of fountains can be heard in the opening of the piece, and in the plaintive, harp-like entrance of the piano. Garden scenes appear and gently evaporate. Boisterous percussive textures in piano are intermingled with imitations of harp glissandi, and of fast Spanish guitar rasgueadoFast repetitions in piano portray this Spanish guitar strumming technique, executed using the fingers of the strumming hand in rhythmically precise, rapid patterns.

The first movement erupts into a thunderous culmination and quickly evaporates with a smoky diminuendo.  Danza lejana enters as the second movement. Rhythmic flamenco melodies, accompanied by the sounds of the Spanish guitars and singers linger throughout.

En los jardines de la Sierra de Córdoba, the third part of this work, shows off its sparkling fountains from the very start, and the dancing musicians carousing on its grounds. Here, the rippling fountains, Spanish guitars and the dancers - all heard in the previous movements intermittently - come together in one boisterous celebration of music and sound.

De Falla’s masterpiece is colorful, vibrant and great fun to play.  It has been exciting to explore the various tonal capacities of the piano - from fast repetitions and ostinato octaves, to white and black-key glissandi, and pianissimo chords.

I can’t wait to take you on the journey of sounds in the beautiful Spanish gardens at night, with the ASO and Maestro Mann!

Tatiana Roitman Mann's Take on De Falla's "Nights in the Gardens of Spain"