Mompou: Música callada

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Mompou
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Mompou: Música callada
WORKS: Música callada; Prélude VII (Palmier d’étoiles; Damunt de tu només les flors (arr. Volodos); Scènes d’enfants; Hoy la tierra y los cielos me sonrien (arr. Volodos); El lago; Prélude XII; Dialogues 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Arcadi Volodos (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88765433262

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The piano music of Frederic Mompou (1893-1987) has a small but fanatically dedicated following of which Stephen Hough, who recorded an album of it in 1997, is a passionate member. In his liner note, Hough aptly describes it as ‘the music of evaporation’, pervaded by a childlike wonder that allowed ‘nowhere for the sophisticate to hide’. Which makes it all the more surprising that arch-sophisticate Arcadi Volodos should now be championing it, too. It’s for the most part technically simple: what would this Russian maestro do with his fabled virtuosity? The answer comes in the first few bars of the first Prelude where his technical brilliance comes to the fore: the arpeggiated cascades demand a super-refined calibration of pedalling and touch, while the alternating lyrical passages ask for the most opulent persuasiveness.

Mompou said that his Música callada miniatures, of which Volodos plays ten, is music that ‘contains neither air nor light. It is a weak heartbeat… it has the mission to penetrate to the depths of our soul’. Volodos himself likens it to ‘frozen instants, where time and space melt into one another’, and, in this lovely recording, that is how it comes across, with the selection so ordered that the pieces seem to succeed each other in an unbroken train of thought. Volodos deploys his skills as a transcriber to render two songs exquisitely, but otherwise this CD is the purest pianism, with a drifting, freely associative, visionary momentum. 

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Michael Church