Joaquín NIN (1879 – 1949)
The Piano Music

Danza ibérica (En Seville una noche de Mayo) (1925) [7:38]
Mensaje a Claudio Debussy (Boceto sinfónico) (1929) [7:14]
Cadena de valses (Evocación romántica) (1927) [17:34]
Canto de cuna para los huerfanos de España (1938) [6:37]
1830: variaciones sobre un tema frivolo (1934) [12:11]
Segunda danza ibérica (1938) [5:34]
Danza andaluza (1938) [4:39]
Danza murciana (1938) [5:41]
Martin Jones (piano)
rec. 30 November 2006, 14-15 May 2007, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth. DDD
NIMBUS NI 5851 [67:15]
Martin Jones continues his expansive and dextrous trawl of the Iberian muse – not just that, but he’s something of a connoisseur of this particular arena – in this captivating exploration of Nin’s piano music.
Nin’s Parisian experiences suffused his music-making, adding a rich impressionist hue to the sunlit dapple of his infectious dance rhythms. His background in any case was diffuse. Born in Havana (then Spanish) of a family originally French, he was a student of Moszkowski in the French capital and then pursued studies in Berlin. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s he lived in Paris. But like so many other expatriates he was more Spanish than the Spanish and his piano writing rivals even his near contemporary Turina’s for an Iberianism infiltrated by Debussian streaks.
Danza ibérica in fact offers up a similar kind of Andalucian pleasure garden as does Turina’s Contes d’Espagne though his exact contemporary de Falla is another equally potent point of reference. This 1925 opus has Flamenco lyricism and dynamism, though it becomes infiltrated by impressionism. The fabulous guitar run impressions are compellingly resolved by Jones, the Andalucian ethos paramount. Mensaje a Claudio Debussy is a kind of cross-pollinator, a piece that both refracts and absorbs Debussian hints – never direct quotations as such – in an act of homage and heady Iberian lineage.
Cadena de valses (Evocación romántica) is a spicy invocation in which Nin evokes Schubert, Ravel, Chopin and Schumann – the last of whom, though not named in any of the waltz movements, is specifically invoked in one of Nin’s characteristically lengthy prefaces, as indeed is Soler. These powerful dance inspirations are interspersed with more reflective moments but end with a jubilant Jota.
Nin wrote the Canto de cuna para los huerfanos de España in 1938 at a time when there much to mourn in Spain. A piece written for the orphans of Spain opens rather like a Bach chorale prelude in a piano arrangement but the rocking, tolling motif presages instead a lullaby of elegiac depth and concision. Four years earlier and in total contrast – these two works are bisected by the outbreak of the Civil War – he wrote 1830: variaciones sobre un tema frivolo. This witty and kaleidoscopic panorama of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century composition reprises something at which Nin was adept; the ghostly, spectral summoning up of a composer’s wraith without directly quoting him. So we have Schumann’s seriousness in the first variation, Chopin’s filigree in the second, and some Scarlatti flurry – he slips the chronology somewhere, but never mind. The whole schema ends with the grandeur of an engulfing Bachian epilogue. Finally we have three rather generic but nonetheless attractive dances. I was most taken by the exotic sway of the outer sections of the Segunda danza ibérica.
The notes are by the inspiring Jones himself, who continues to match the standard set by previous entries in his burgeoning discography. And with excellently calibrated recording quality – not too engulfing but with generous clarity – the enthusiast can partake of this sumptuous and wide-ranging recital.
Jonathan Woolf

This sumptuous and wide-ranging recital ... see Full Review