Frederico MOMPOU (1893-1987)
Preludes Nos. 5-10: No.5 (1930) [2:18]: No.6 (1930) [4:30]: No.7 (1931) [2:45]:
No.8 (1943) [2:51]: No.9 (1943) [2:34]: No.10 (1944) [1:54]
Canciónes y danzas Nos. 5-12: No.5 (1942) [3:42]: No.6 (1942) [4:45]:
No.7 (1944) [2:43]: No.8 (1946) [3:33]: No.9 (1948) [3:56]: No.10 (1953) [2:15]:
No.11 (1961) [3:34]: No.12 (1962) [3:16]
Impresiones intimas (1911-14) [19:03]
Olena Kushpler (piano)
rec. August 2011, Siemensvilla, Berlin
CAPRICCIO C5115 [63:47]
Mompou's character pieces and dances have long exercised a pull on the exploratory
pianist. The Ukrainian Olena Kushpler has selected six of the Preludes and eight
of the Canciónes y danzas, adding the complete Impressiones
intimas to create a well-balanced programme. Purists might have wished for
complete sets of the former, but maybe they will appear in due course. Kushpler
has a warm tone and good instincts for the music's plangency and dreamy qualities.
Nor is she innocent of its tangier, dance-like vitality. It's often a question
of how the pianist characterises the moods and impressions Mompou presents:
a question too of how to approach and bind those tricky contrastive B sections.
Too big a contrast and the structure fractures; too small a contrast and the
Mompou recorded a large tranche of his own music in 1974 when he was on 81.
The box set on Brilliant was reviewed by me some years ago. He is almost always
more percussive and with a dryer, more hard-edged sound than others who record
this music. Partly this is a question of the piano and the recorded sound, but
also it's part of a composer-executant’s stand-offish view of his own
music: gimlet-eyed, taut, and not inclined to linger unnecessarily. Maybe, too,
it's a question of age, though he doesn't seem unduly taxed technically. Kushpler
is another in the line of pianists who are less arresting rhythmically than
the composer, but who offer compensation in tonal breadth. This is true in the
fifth and seventh Preludes. When Mompou writes 'languido' as he does of the
Ninth prelude Kushpler takes him at his word and plays with considerable charm
and colour. Mompou's objectivist stance is of a piece with his performances
generally. Sometimes this duality of response can change a piece's character.
The Tenth Prelude, for instance, is more chordally warm and ebullient in
her hands but with the composer things are cool, almost quizzical.
In the lovely Canciónes y danzas, we find that where she is youthful
and light, he is full of regret and tristesse (No.5) and that where she savours
the lyricism (No.6) he absorbs it but passes on without show. Where she is eager
and excited (No.8) he is fragile and nostalgic - though, as this is a Lento,
who's to gainsay the composer here? What remains incontestable is her subtly
coloured playing, attractive chording and enthusiasm for the richness inherent
in the music. And, in any case, it's rather enjoyable to find in the Impressiones
intimas that where Mompou espouses a tensile directness laced with rubati
(No.3) she prefers sweetness and light.
One can enjoy Kushpler's performances alongside the composer's very different
recordings, some of which, it's true, do suffer tape flaws. She offers a warmly
textured series of performances, well recorded. My only concern remains whether
she intends to complete the sets. Collectors might not necessarily look favourably
on the complete Impressiones but only half of the other two sets. Let's
hope she concludes the undertaking.
A warmly textured series of performances, well recorded.