The Spanish have a number of phrases for Indian Summer. It is called the 'Veranillo de San Miguel' or 'Veranillo de San Martín', the former for Michaelmas and the latter for a summer stretching into November. The more poetic name for it is 'Veranillo del Membrillo', the little summer of the quince. As if honouring that meteorological phenomenon, Harmonia Mundi has released a disc of de Falla's piano music with Spanish pianist Javier Perianes. While some of the solo piano works lack a little summer shimmer, the central performance of Noches en los jardines de España will warm any autumnal evening.
Perianes is terrific in the stumbling intimacy of the 1900 Canción. Limp phrasing, rhetorical echoes and generally lush textures make for a winsome performance. Yet there's a comparative coldness to the 1920 Homenaje - Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy. Perianes equates the detachment of de Falla's later idiom with emotional neutrality. Given the implicit homage, the performance leaves something wanting. But that absence is more than compensated by the Ravelian tremours and teases of Montañesa from the Cuatro piezas españolas. Here, as in the Canción, Perianes takes a more poetic hazy approach to de Falla's musical language (even in the more spirited passages).
But it's the centrepiece of Noches en los jardines de España that will most attract listeners. Josep Pons knows this repertoire better than anyone and the BBC Symphony Orchestra responds with shivering intensity. Here, freshness and fire are kept in balance, and it's thrilling to feel the work rocking between those opposing temperatures. There's real swing to the dances, and surging dynamics and bristling precision deliver changes in tempo with sexy daring. Debussyian charge pervades the coda, rounding off the perfect accompaniment to 'Veranillo del Membrillo'.