- El Sombrero de tres picos, suite from the ballet for piano
The young Venezuelan pianist Vanessa Perez, a product of that country's famous music education system, has confidently traversed repertory from across the Iberian and Latin American worlds and has gained a good deal of attention in her adopted country, the U.S. With Spain, however, she tries something different: a close interrogation of the musical relationship between Manuel de Falla, the composer who arguably did the most to define the national image of Spain in music, and Claude Debussy, the Frenchman who both mightily influenced Falla and was in turn influenced by him. Sample Perez's reading of Falla's "Homenaje: Le tombeau de Claude Debussy" (track 14), which quotes from Debussy's own "La soirée dans Grenade" (track five), a work that influenced Falla profoundly, and you get an idea of the currents at work here. You might be able to find more slashing Falla or more atmospheric Debussy, but the program is strong and consistently executed. To make it work, Perez has to use a variety of Falla transcriptions, but you do get the rarely performed "Fantasía bética" (commissioned by Arthur Rubinstein) of Falla and the equally exotic "Lindaraja" (for two pianos) of Debussy. The Steinway label contributes fine sound from the Sono Luminus studio in Virginia to a satisfying outing from an exciting young artist.