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Piano Music by Federico Mompou
“The music of Federico Mompou may appear at first to consist of little more than charming, delicately scented but dilettantish salon near-improvisations with marked overtones of Erik Satie; but it's significant that his earliest works (in the 1920s) are imbued with a sense of mystery and wonder.
Later he was to progress from an ingenuous lyricism (in the Songs and dances) to a profounder contemplation and mysticism, to greater harmonic and keyboard complexity ( Dialogues) and finally, in the 1946-60 Paisajes ('Landscapes'), to a more experimental, less tonal idiom. In the hands of an imaginative pianist like Stephen Hough this other-worldly quality becomes revelatory.
Hough's command of tonal nuance throughout is ultra-sensitive, he catches Mompou's wistful moods to perfection, and on the rare occasions when the music lashes out, as in Prelude No 7, he's scintillating. In the more familiar Songs and dances he's tender in the songs and crisp rhythmically in the dances. He treats the 'Testament d'Amelia' in No 8 with a good deal of flexibility, and because Mompou declared (and demonstrated in his own recordings) that 'it's all so free', he takes the fullest advantage of the marking senza rigore in No 5, which reflects Mompou's lifelong fascination with bell sounds.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“In the hands of an imaginative pianist like Stephen Hough this other-worldly, almost eremitic [music] becomes revelatory. He catches Mompou's wistful moods to perfection” Gramophone Magazine
“[Hough] is completely inside Mompou's fastidious, Satie-esque sound-world and understands the absorbed influences which make this music as much French as Spanish...Not even Mompou himself equalled, let alone surpassed, Hough in this repertoire.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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Mompou - Piano Music Volume 3
“All of a sudden it's Mompou Month. Federico Mompou (1893-1937) was the most significant composer of Spanish piano music after Albeniz and Granados, Alicia de Larrocha has been his most noted champion, though others have been taking up his cause. We have in the Naxos disc a cross-section of Mompou's music. Jordi Maso, a skillful Spaniard, plays a collection that includes Mompou's Chopin Variations, Three Variations, Souvenirs de l'Exposition, Paisajes, Pessebres and Impressions Intimas. It is all graceful, attractive music, salon-like, expertly written.
Who was it who said that in the heart of every French opera composer lies a slumbering Massenet? One might also say that in the heart of every Spanish composer of piano music slumber those two twins, Albeniz and Granados. Mompou tries, but was not in that class; he lacked the bigness to envision a latter-day Iberia and Goyescas. But that does not mean that Mompou does not occupy a legitimate space among the lesser Spanish composers. His Chopin Variations, based on the little A-major Prelude, is a beautifully crafted piece. The other pieces make the expected references to Spanish melody and rhythm. Mompou was a fine pianist and he knew all the tricks. So there is a skillful combination of virtuosity and agreeable melody. Maso, hitherto unknown to me, is a strong pianist completely at home in this idiom. A survey of Spanish piano music from him would be a most worthy challenge. Here's hoping.” American Record Guide, January/February 2001
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Federico Mompou: Piano Music Volume 1
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