Joaquín Nin is, perhaps, best rememberd as the father of composer
Joaquin Nin–Culmell (Culmell was his mother’s maiden name) and
writer Anaïs Nin, for his music, in Britain at least, is seldom,
if ever, performed and he is but a name, if that, to music-lovers.
It’s hard to see why he is so neglected for these works are highly
colourful and full of pleasing, and entertaining, things. Like
the music of Astor Piazzolla these pieces speak the musical language
of the composer’s homeland, in this case Cuba, dominated by things
Spanish, and, although slight, are well worth investigating.
After a rather breathless start, the first piece is a kind of
more modern (harmonically and rhythmically) version of a piece
from Albeniz’s Ibéria
, Mensaje a Claudio Debussy
It comes as welcome relief. In general, it’s a slow, quiet, dance
- at times it sounds like Constant Lambert - and it builds to
an impressive climax but falls away again towards the end. This
is a fine piece.
Cadena de valses
is a set of waltzes, in the manner of
Ravel’s Valses nobles et valses sentimentales
, but without
the variety of that masterwork. Nin’s work is pleasing but one
would have welcomed some rest from time to time; it’s all a bit
tiring. The gentle restraint of Canto de cuna para los huerfanos
(Lullaby for the Orphans of Spain), a requiem for
the children who had been left without parents after the Spanish
Civil War, is a touching memorial which says more, in its simple
way, than many a bigger and bolder work.
1830: variaciones sobre un tema frivolo
, whilst firmly
keeping one eye on the past, isn’t ignorant of the future, but
as the frivolous theme is developed we hear many different voices
including one which is terribly reminiscent of Michael Carr’s
title music for television’s The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre
The similarity is so clear that one wonders if Carr knew the Nin
work, for there’s no reason that he shouldn’t. The piece alternates
virtuoso movements with slower, more relaxed ones. There’s a real
virtuoso rush at the end which is quite delightful.
The final three pieces are dances of one kind or another. This
is a very pleasant collection of, basically, light piano pieces,
but there is a problem; the range of the music is very limited
and as Jones plays them in the same way – what else can he do?
– a sense of boredom sets in. The best thing to do is sample a
couple of tracks at a time, for listening to the whole CD in one
sitting will give you an unfavourable impression of the music,
as it did me. Whilst Nin, on the strength of this music, is no
lost master it’s very enjoyable stuff, and an interesting insight
into what happened in Spanish piano music after Albeniz and Falla.
The recording and notes are excellent.