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]
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 de España (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.

Bob Briggs
Very enjoyable … see Full Review