MCO’s España! can be heard in Melbourne on Thursday 6 September at The Deakin Edge, Federation Square and Sunday 9 September at Melbourne Recital Centre

MCO: Spanish music has a very particular flavour. What can audiences expect to hear in these performances?

Emma: Anyone who has had the good fortune to visit Spain can attest to its vibrancy. From the imagination of Gaudí’s architecture to the relaxed tapas culture, it is absolutely overbrimming with life, colour and art. This is ever-present in its music, which is evocative, passionate and always infused with dance rhythms. Imagery and storytelling are central to Spanish music, as seen in the opening work of this program, La oración del torero (The Bullfighter’s prayer). In his work, Turina effectively juxtaposes the tumult of the arena with the calm of the bullfighter praying to God for protection. In his España suite, Albéniz provides charming vignettes of Spanish life. The movements take inspiration from different regions and cities, a sultry tango and the delightfully lopsided Zortzico dance rhythm that originates from the Basque Country. In Danzas Españolas, Granados also evokes the images and sounds of his homeland. His dances range from a lively fandango to a rustic, foot-stamping folk dance from the Aragonese region.

MCO: The Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez is music that often makes it onto “best loved classics” lists. What makes this music so special in your opinion?

Emma: With this work, Rodrigo transports the listener to the Aranjuez region in Spain, a place he loved visiting with his wife. The first and third movements employ charming folk-style melodies and pulse with the vitality of dance rhythms, conjuring images of flamenco dancers with castanets. There is plenty of opportunity for the solo guitar to shine with florid, virtuosic episodes. But it is the second movement that is the showpiece of this concerto. The hauntingly beautiful melody first introduced in the cor anglais weaves its way through the ensemble. It eventually leads to an ecstatic version for the full compliment of the orchestra after an extended cadenza for solo guitar that explores the technical and expressive range of the instrument. It is an exquisitely crafted movement and will undoubtedly be a highlight for the musicians and audience members alike.

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