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Joaquim HOMS (1906 – 2003)
Three Sardanes (1951)a [9:15]
Andante (1940)a [3:46]
Piano Sonata No.2 (1955) [11:12]
Nine Sketches (1925/6) [6:51]
Toccata (1948) [6:36]
Diptych II (1994) [6:36]
Record del mar (1995) [1:04]
Vals de suburbi (1931) [0:56]
Presències (1967) [21:34]
Jordi Masó (piano); Miquel Villalba (piano)a
Recorded: Auditorium, Jafre, Spain, July-August 2003
MARCO POLO 8.225294 [68:29]

 



 

Thanks to Jordi Masó’s tireless and dedicated advocacy as well as Marco Polo’s willingness to record unfamiliar repertoire, we may now appreciate the varied and consistently fine music of Joaquim Homs, who was Roberto Gerhard’s pupil and life-long friend. This release, actually the third and final volume of Homs’ piano music, is – once again – as varied and contrasted as any of the earlier releases (8.225099 and 8.225236, the latter reviewed here some time ago). It includes some early miniatures of great charm, such as the short vignette Vals de suburbi of 1931 and the Three Sardanes of 1951, originally composed for cobla (small wind and percussion band for performing the music of sardanes) but heard here in an arrangement for piano duet; as well as an arrangement for piano duet of the Andante from the First Wind Quintet of 1940. Incidentally, the much later Second Wind Quintet was composed in 1971 in memory of Roberto Gerhard. The earliest work here is the Nine Sketches dating from the mid-1920s; in fact the first work acknowledged by the composer. As may be expected this is a short suite of vividly characterised miniatures.

The concise, but nevertheless substantial Piano Sonata No.2 is in three movements, of which the central one Derivaciones - actually a theme and variations of sorts - is the weightiest. This is mature Homs in freely dodecaphonic writing. The music is full of imagination and ultimately is quite accessible. Incidentally, Masó already recorded the Second Piano Sonata as a “fill-up” to his recording of Gerhard’s piano music [8.223867]. This one is apparently another recording made in 2003. A major work for all its concision.

On the other hand, the tripartite Toccata of 1948 is neo-classical in outlook, lighter in mood, and a brilliant essay in Bachian counterpoint. The Finale made me think of Rawsthorne.

Diptych II (1994) and Record del mar (1995) are among Homs’ last completed works. The former was written as a test piece for the Tenth Piano Competition of Berga. The latter was written for inclusion in an album of piano music by contemporary Spanish and Portuguese composers. Short pieces of great charm, superbly crafted and quite rewarding to play and to listen to as well.

However, the most substantial and most personal work here is Presències composed in 1967. This sizeable suite was written in memory of Homs’ wife, the painter Pietat Fornessa, some of whose paintings appropriately adorn the covers of this and the other Homs releases. As Ignacio Huerta rightly remarks in his excellent and well-informed insert notes, “[the music] distils a bitter and deep pain for the death of a being who was dearly loved”. So, the music retraces their common life, from happy moments till Death’s final blows, without ever being programmatic. Structurally, the suite is held together by several tone rows worked-out in this composer’s usual, free manner. The music is also mostly elegiac in mood, emotionally restrained and – as a result – deeply moving, without any fuss or histrionic. This is undoubtedly a major achievement that should definitely not be overlooked.

Judging from these three volumes of piano music, Homs was an important composer whose achievement was long overlooked. These discs will hopefully trigger some further interest for his music and prompt further recordings of it.

Jordi Masó plays as beautifully as ever; and his dedicated advocacy and impeccable technique pay high dividends. These three volumes of Homs’ piano music are a brave venture, and a heart-felt tribute to a most distinguished composer whose beautifully crafted and sincerely expressive music can no longer be ignored. Strongly recommended.

Hubert Culot

 

 



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