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Piano Music : Volume 3
Variations sur un thème de Chopin
Trois variations
Souvenirs de l'exposition
Paisajes (Landscapes)
Pessebres (Cribs)
Impressions intimes. Planys (Lamentations)

Jordi Masó (piano)
Recorded 1999
NAXOS 8. 554570 [73.47]
  Amazon UK

I had my first encounter with the name of Frederic Mompou when reviewing Volume 2 of this series in a newspaper for classical music enthusiasts. This Catalan composer (1893-1987) is not a frequently heard name and Jordi Masó is doing his level best via Naxos to get his music more widely known and is making a good job of the result too. Like its predecessor (and for all I know also Volume 1) this disc contains some very attractive music and Masó reveals himself as a dedicated camp follower with stylish, committed playing (on this disc he seems now to have rid himself of excessive pedalling which is welcome). The composer's French musical education is immediately obvious in his harmonic language and the flavour of his mood painting. The music featured on this disc spans a wide range of years from 1914 to 1960 though you would not discern the passage of so many years in which music moved on.

Mompou's tonal palette is somewhat limited by much emphasis on slowish to very slow tempo markings (there is hardly any animated music anywhere), even his choice of theme in the case of the 1938 set of twelve variations is one of Chopin's ruminative melodies (and one of his most famous, the Prelude No.7 in A major Op.28), centered around its tenth called Évocation. All the works featured are, very similar, very soothing and can be recommended as highly listenable music (hardly any dissonances), and therefore not surprising to learn that Mompou held the view that 'maximum expressiveness is to be achieved through minimum means' and certainly his piano writing can be spare and highly translucent, his melodies suffused with a hauntingly naïve quality. Taken in small doses it should prove very pleasant on the ear.

Christopher Fifield



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