WORKS: Cançons i danses No. 7; Cançons i danses No. 8; Cançons i danses No. 9; Cançons i danses No. 10; Cançons i danses No. 11; Cançons i danses No. 12; Cançons i danses No. 14; Pessebres; Impressiones intimas; Prelude No. 1; Prelude No. 2; Prelude No. 3; Prelu
PERFORMER: Remei Cortes Ayats (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ADW 7408
The solo piano music of the Spanish composer Federico Mompou (1893-1987) has a sophisticated naivety which can be most affecting. In Stephen Hough’s words, ‘[Mompou’s] simplicity of expression – elusive, evasive, shy – is strangely disarming’, though these miniatures – only one piece on this disc lasts more than four minutes – vary in interest and quality, requiring tonal refinement and imagination for them to flower.
Frankly, the Spanish pianist Remei Cortes Ayats offers little that seduces the ear. She is one of those artists whose every phrase reminds you that the piano is a percussion instrument, while the Steinway she plays sounds as though it would benefit from some new hammer felts. Listen to Stephen Hough’s selection on Hyperion (the two discs have some of the Preludes and Cançons in common) and you enter a different world – sample his magical ‘Palmier d’étoiles’ (Prelude No. 7) or the Prelude for left hand alone: Hough luxuriates (5:25 mins), Ayats just gets through it (3:26).
The three Variations (1921), though promised in the notes, are not on the disc. The booklet note itself shows a casual acquaintance with English spelling and syntax, and I was slightly alarmed to learn that Ms Ayats ‘received an illustrious musical formation in Barcelona’. She appears not to have recovered from the experience. Jeremy Nicholas