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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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