RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Jaime Martín looks to his home country of Spain for his third and final concert in his current series as part of RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra LIVE - watch live on RTÉ Culture and listen on RTÉ lyric fm this Friday, October 16th at 7 pm.

With an all-Spanish programme marking the end of Jaime Martín's current three-concert series with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra this week, you might be forgiven for thinking the Cantabrian conductor is feeling a little homesick. Not a bit of it.

"The idea was the orchestra’s, not mine," he insists with a laugh. "They’d been asking for a long time and for a long time I resisted. But now it seems like a good moment to bring a little bit of light and warmth to these cold and gloomy times."

Banishing the winter chill are four works by the well-known Manuel de Falla and Enrique Granados together with a relishable curio in Ruperto Chapí, all recognisably Spanish with their abundance of colour, infectious rhythms and even, in one case, that most authentic and passionate of sounds from the Iberian peninsula, flamenco.

Picking up from last week’s performance of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella comes another ballet composed at the behest of the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, Falla’s exuberant and witty The Three-Cornered Hat, its use of traditional Spanish tunes earning him international fame.

"Falla was living in Paris at the time when Spanish music was very popular in France and taken up by Debussy, Ravel and Bizet, all of them attracted by the gypsy side of Spain. It was considered exotic."

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Based on a traditional tale about a lusty magistrate’s attempts to seduce the faithful wife of a crafty miller, The Three-Cornered Hat is a wonderfully comic creation.

"Falla was a master orchestrator and this is a perfect marriage between the impressionistic style of Ravel and the popular music of Spain. It fits together so beautifully and the characters are absolutely spot on: the drunken bassoon for the magistrate, the Miller’s Wife’s fandango and the braying of their donkey. You can feel it’s ballet music."

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Sharing the bill is Falla’s El amor brujo (Love, the Magician), a spooky Spanish legend that seems made for Halloween week in which a young widow is prevented from pursuing her new love by the jealously interfering ghost of her dead husband.

Taking Falla's description of it as "a gypsy piece" at face value, Martín injects an added touch of glamour with the inclusion of a flamenco singer and dancer (Rebecca Sanchez) in several songs.

"It wasn't easy to find a flamenco singer here in Ireland. But we did! It’s a fantastic piece of music and although the songs aren’t normally sung in a concert performance, the natural, unrefined sound of the flamenco voice really suits the material. You have to feel flamenco and its extraordinary rhythms and range of voice, and when you do it’s a powerful combination."

"Now it seems like a good moment to bring a little bit of light and warmth to these cold and gloomy times."

No less powerful, he adds, is the haunting Intermezzo from Granados’ last opera, Goyescas, a piece Martín says he "has felt very close to all my life".

"Composed in a single night with the help of the great Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, it’s a jewel. Coming between the two Falla pieces, it is like having a refreshing sorbet in the middle of two rich courses. Every time I think about it, I feel calm. If you’re having a bad moment, this is one of the best healers I know."

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Leaving nothing to chance, Martín’s aim to send audiences into the weekend smiling is virtually guaranteed with the Overture to Ruperto Chapí’s La Revoltosa, bursting as it is with energy and colour.

"I’ve played this throughout Europe and I cannot tell you how much people enjoy it. Chapí was a prolific composer of Spanish light opera and this overture from one of his most popular pieces is an irreverent, fun, light-hearted piece that will make everyone smile."

As he departs Dublin for other commitments, Martín’s journeys will take him in the months ahead to Barcelona, Sweden and Los Angeles before returning to the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in 2021, a prospect he is already looking forward to.

"It’s been wonderful to spend five weeks in Dublin and to see audiences growing for the NSO’s online concerts. They’ve shown that making music is still possible and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so pleased that it’s having the right effect."

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra LIVE will be streamed across RTÉ Culture and broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm this Friday, October 16th at 7 pm.