> Joachim Homs - Piano Sonata No. 1 [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Joaquim HOMS (born 1906)
Piano Sonata No.1 (1945)
Three Inventions on One Chord (1958)
Carousel Waltz (1934)
Between Two Lines (1948)
Three Evocations (1982/7)
In memoriam A. Rubinstein
Remembrances (1984/95)
Jordi Masó (piano)
Recorded: Teatre de Ponent in Granollers, July 2000
MARCO POLO 8.225236 [67:01]


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Joaquim Homs was the late Roberto Gerhard’s only pupil. (He actually wrote a book about Gerhard some ten or fifteen years ago.) Unlike his teacher, Homs remained in Spain working as an engineer while devoting much of his time to music, as a composer and as a performing cellist. His music generally eschews any attempt at narrow nationalism or at the then prevailing Neo-classicism. Quite early in his composing life, he was attracted to atonality and even serialism although his music rarely adheres strictly to serial principles. Some of his earlier pieces such as his Variations on a Popular Catalan Tune (1943) and Carousel Waltz (1934) recorded here may still be said to belong to some more traditional trends, but the impressive Piano Sonata No.1 of 1945 is a compact, tightly argued piece laid-out in a clearly atonal, chromatic idiom, possibly nearer to Berg than to Schönberg, in its emotionally charged and tensely expressive content. It is by far the most substantial piece in this selection.

Between Two Lines (1948) a suite of short, simple character sketches, still slightly harks back to some sort of Neo-classical simplicity: tuneful, colourful and full of contrasts. A delightful work and a good introduction to Homs’ music making. (Incidentally, the back cover dates this piece as from 1958, but the date of 1948 mentioned in the notes is much more likely.)

Indeed the Three Inventions on One Chord from 1958 clearly show how far Homs’ style has evolved over the years. The music of these studies is more stringent, forceful, at times more violent and displays a greater economy of means, while exploiting the piano’s expressive range in a more searching way.

On the other hand, the more recent pieces with which this selection ends, are all – in one way or another – imbued with nostalgic thoughts. The Three Invocations (actually In memoriam Turina and Diptych for Frederic Mompou), written between 1982 and 1987, as well as the short tribute to Arthur Rubinstein probably written either in 1982 or 1983, are generally simple, affectionate tributes to some of his friends and colleagues.

The set titled Remembrances, composed between 1984 and 1995, also pays homage to friends and family members. The longest piece of the set is inscribed In memoriam P.F.A., i.e. possibly Pietat Fonseca, the composer’s wife. This long sorrowful elegy has the pianist briefly drumming on the piano, thus enhancing the ominous, funeral mood of the piece. The other pieces of the set are all mostly elegiac in mood, full of restrained emotion but deeply moving.

Jordi Masó, who has already recorded a first volume of Homs’ piano music (MARCO POLO 8.225099 AmazonUK AmazonUS) and who has included Homs’ Second Piano Sonata in his recording of Gerhard’s piano works (MARCO POLO 8.223867 AmazonUK AmazonUS), obviously has a deep understanding of and a real sympathy for Homs’ music which he plays with assurance and conviction.

Hubert Culot


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