Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987)
Piano music - Volume Two - Discoveries
Martin Jones (piano)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, 23 June, 31 October, 1 November 2011
see track listing at end
NIMBUS NI 5877/9 [3 CDs: 2:46:00]
 
In his earlier four-disc set [NI 5724-27] Martin Jones distilled the essence of Mompouís muse in fine performances of works central to the composerís canon. Now itís time to stretch the wings a little with a three-disc set containing a large number of miniatures with which few will be familiar. Miniatures, certainly, but there is also a major rarity in the form of the ballet music for Perlimplinada, of which more soon.
 
The set is subtitled ĎDiscoveriesí and thatís true enough. None was published during Mompouís lifetime and as Paul Conwayís notes, which are outstanding, shepherd us through the music, we are led into many a pleasant byway.  The first disc offers some delicious dissonances in Impressions de muntanya, but of even more merit is the disinterment of Mompouís only consciously constructed narrative cycle, Impressions sobre la vida díun miner, which even I can translate.  There are numerous dances sprinkled throughout, not least the delightful Impressions de La Garriga, which feast richly on Debussian harmonies, and are unusually virtuosic for Mompou. By and large he preferred a more textually clear and Ďsimpleí approach to his scenic depictions.
 
Cinc Impressions may remind one of the great Impressiones intimes to come, though here he feints briefly toward Satie before playing a warm chant motif to bring things back to his native soil. Fiesta triste is a worthy rediscovery. Light-hearted and joyful, itís interrupted briefly by bass dissonances, to excellent effect. The dappled impressionism of Les amigues returned del camp may have seemed to Mompou to be too overt for publication, but surely it wonít concern us now. Itís a delight. So too are two very unMompou things; hotel commissions called the Serious fox-trot and Tango. The first is a charming genre piece which shows he listened to popular music, and the second is actually not a Tango, itís more of a habanera.
 
Preludi has something distinctly Chopinesque about it, whilst CanÁů i dansa del pessebre sounds to my ears decidedly Kreisleresque. Talking of possible influence, Satie stalks Record de platja. Itís interesting to hear Mompou grappling with theme and variation form in Variations ĎAura-Mazdaí. Itís persuasive, but he was to refine, broaden and better this in years to come. One of the most attractive pieces in this set is El plany del captaire which, with its forlorn chords and mood, soon to flourish into passages of resplendent drama reflective either of optimism or ecstatic recall (who can tell?), is a cogent example of Mompouís bittersweet music. It should certainly be better known. Letís hope Jonesís exceptionally fine performance will make it so. El pont de MontjuÔc is, for Mompou, very unusually romantic. Itís actually a love token to his wife, as is the RomanÁa. Thereís a fifteen-minute Ballet suite with a succession of ingenious dances include a light smattering of blues, a Forlane and a Pavane.
 
The final disc lasts 30 minutes and houses Perlimplinada, the piano version (and Mompouís most extended work) of a ballet score that was later developed and orchestrated by Mompouís colleague Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002).  Itís presented in 14 unbroken Ďsectionsí and is music of engaging but never emollient quality. A sure-fire highlight is the bell reveille but thereís a great sense of atmosphere and colour throughout. Stylistically, it hints more at Ravel and Stravinsky Ė tarter and more dissonant and more dramatic Ė than Mompouís usual impressionist influences, but thatís all the more reason to get to know it.
 
Nimbus has recorded Jones extremely well, warmly but with no loss of focus. Another winner.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 
Another winner.
 
Track-List

CD 1 [68:53]

1 Impressions de muntanya (1910) [3.43]
2 Dues Impressions (1915/16) [2.16]
3 Impressions sobre la vida díun miner (1914) [6.57]
4 Impressions de La Garriga (1913/16) [12.56]
5 Cinq Impressions (1918) [11.41]
6 Líeco (1914) [1.09]
7 Les hores (1915) [2.40]
8 Festa triste (1915/16) [2.47]
9 Deux Arabesques (1915) [3.52]
10 Les amigues retornen del camp (1916) [1.49]
11 Serious fox-trot (1916) [5.24]
12 Tango (1919) [3.18]
13 Ball pla [2.53]
14 Dues CanÁons [2.53]
15 Les fabriques prop de la platja [2.15]
16 Sis variacions harmoniques sobre un tema popular La canÁo díen Jaumet [3.58]

CD 2 [66:22]

1 El camŪ del jardŪ (1911) [0.39]
2 Dos petits preludis (1912) [3.25]
3 Montseny (1912) [1.31]
4 Preludi (1912/13) [1.17]
5 CanÁo i dansa del pessebre (1914) [2.32]
6 Record de platja (1914) [2.11]
7 Variacions Aura-Mazda (1915) [6.27]
8 Fox-trot (1916) [2.49]
9 El plany del captaire (1916) [5.32]
10 Camins de sorra [ 2.32]
11 Danse dels tres reis que han caigut del camel [3.21]
12 Estanys de paper de plata [2.38]
13 Pensaments [2.04]
14 El pont de Montjuic (1941/47) [4.48]
15 RomanÁa (1944) [0.44]
16 Moderato expressive (1946) [0.54]
17 Glossa sobre Au claire de la lune (1946) [1.30]
18 Fantasia sobre Au claire de la lune (1946) [2.45]
19 Preludi XI (1943?) [1.42]
20 Preludi XII (1960) [3.17]
21 Ballet Suite (1949) [13.51]

CD 3 [30:42]

1-6 Perlimplinada (1956) [30.42]