Juanjo Mena has breathed new life into the BBC Philharmonic during his seven seasons as its Chief Conductor, and he leaves the orchestra at the end of the current season in tremendous shape. Tonight is his final concert in charge – and this celebratory all-Spanish programme has the conductor’s fingerprints all over it. The first half is given over to a pair of works by Catalan composer Isaac Albéniz, recently recorded by Mena and the orchestra to great critical acclaim: the overture to his comic opera The Magic Opal, both sunny and breezy at once; and the Rapsodia española, an evocative and irresistible portrayal of Albéniz’s homeland. They’re the precursor to a real rarity: a concert performance of Manuel de Falla’s one-hour opera La vida breve (‘Life Is Short’), which works flamenco culture, Andalusian folk tunes and classic operatic tropes into its story of a gypsy woman jilted by her wealthy lover. Though it’s not often performed these days, it’s a favourite of Mena’s, and an appropriate way for the conductor to bid farewell to the orchestra he’s led since 2011.
Juanjo Mena – Conductor
Martin Roscoe – Piano