Friday, March 17, 2017

Federico Mompou - Spanish Songs & Dances (Alicia de Larrocha)


Composer: Federico Mompou
  • (01-13) Cançons i Danses Nos. 1-12 & 14
  • (14) Prelude No. 11 (dedicated to Alicia de Larrocha)
  • (15) Prelude No. 5
  • (16) Prelude No. 6 (for the left hand)
  • (17) Prelude No. 7 "Fireworks"

Alicia de Larrocha, piano
Date: 1994
Label: RCA



For the benefit of those who may not know the elegantly salon-like series of 13 Songs and dances (plus one for guitar, not included here), composition of which was spread out over more than 40 years, let me say that with only very few exceptions each consists of a coupling of two traditional Catalan melodies, freely arranged with artfully expressive harmonies. (RCA confuse the trail a little by identifying the tunes by their first words rather than their titles—e.g. ''Dotze cavallers'' instead of ''La senyora Isabel'' for No. 2; and the Dance of No. 9 is classified as original Mompou whereas it is surely ''El barretinaire''?) The earlier pieces, from the 1920s, reveal influences of the Parisian composers with whom Mompou was friendly (the piled-up fourths of No. 3 unmistakably point to Milhaud), but the idiom becomes rather more personal later (and No. 6, which is entirely original, goes to Latin America for its inspiration). More individual than this series, however, are the Preludes: No. 6, the longest piece here, is somewhat Scriabinesque (apart from the similarity of its being for the left hand alone) and No. 7 by far the most impressionist and virtuosic.

As one who knew Mompou well and was the dedicatee of some of his pieces (including the Prelude No. 11—sometimes erroneously listed as No. 7—which was written as a wedding present for her in 1949), Alicia de Larrocha is in an almost unique position as an interpreter of his music, of which she again shows herself here a splendid champion. Being the artist she is, and like the best artists not content simply to repeat a previous interpretation without further thought, she offers readings noticeably different from her now nearly ten-year-old Decca performances of some of the Songs and dances. For the most part she adopts somewhat faster speeds, and as compared with the composer's own performances, recorded for the Musical Heritage Society, her approach is more direct, with more cohesive phrasing and without his habit (which becomes increasingly tiresome) of playing left-hand-before-right on almost every chord. In general she brings more vivacity to the Dance sections—markedly so in Nos. 7 and 8, though she is quieter and gentler in No. 10; she takes the 6/8 section of No. 4 with a charming lightness. Accentuation is sometimes different, as in No. 1 and in the bell-sounds of No. 5; but a compelling feature throughout this disc is her subtle tonal gradations. Larrocha's performances and the warm, natural recorded piano sound are both in the highest class.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone

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Frederic Mompou (16 April 1893 – 30 June 1987) was a Catalan composer and pianist. He is remembered for his solo piano music and, to a degree, his songs. Mompou studied piano under Pedro Serra at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu and with Isidor Philipp at the Conservatoire de Paris. Mompou is best known as a miniaturist, writing short, relatively improvisatory music, often described as delicate or intimate. His principal influences were French impressionism, Erik Satie and Gabriel Fauré. He was also influenced by the sounds of Catalan culture.


Alicia de Larrocha (23 May 1923 – 25 September 2009) was a Spanish pianist and composer. She was considered one of the great piano legends of the 20th century. She is credited with bringing greater popularity to the compositions of Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados. De Larrocha made numerous recordings of the solo piano repertoire and in particular the works of composers of her native Spain. As she grew older she began to play a different style of music; more Mozart and Beethoven. De Larrocha won several individual awards throughout her lifetime.


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  2. I was looking to download this album a long time ago, it was very hard to find, I'm glad I found it at last, thank you very much!! :)