Spanish classical music, like Latin music in nearly every idiom until very recently, has been shunted onto a side road from the mainstream for too long because it has its own world of sound that doesn't follow Central European rhythmic, harmonic and structural rules. Yet, filling a program with tuneful, succinct compositions by the three big names, Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Granados and Manuel de Falla, ought to be a sure-fire crowd pleaser if executed with any minimal degree of rhythmic feeling and emotional power.
And if you add the smoldering mezzo-soprano of Los Angeles Opera's Suzanna Guzman, plus some sultry Spanish summer weather--which indeed was the case with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra's "A Night in Spain" at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre Saturday night--you can't miss.
In this case, it was Falla who made the biggest impression, the deck being stacked at the concert's back end in favor of the first part of his "The Three-Cornered Hat" and the entire "El Amor Brujo" ballet.
Prior to Falla, an objective, not-too-sentimental performance of Granados' Intermezzo from "Goyescas," a somewhat underpowered orchestral transcription of Albeniz's "Asturias" (from "Suite Espagnola") and a decently played Granados Danza "Oriental" (from "Danzas Espagnolas") basically served as warmups.