ALBUM TITLE: Traces
WORKS: Granados: Goyescas; Mompou: Variations sur un theme de Chopin
PERFORMER: Javier Negrin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ODRCD 325
Every now and then you come across a piece you didn’t know existed and wonder where it has been all your life. This is my reaction to encountering Mompou’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin, here played with elegance, beauty and affection by Javier Negrin. The theme itself is the simplest of the 24 Preludes, No. 7 in A major. Mompou, a still ridiculously underrated composer, uses it as a springboard for a series of 12 delicious transformations, beginning with softened, scrunchy, jazzy harmonies and leading on through a range of ideas including a waltz, a mazurka, a recitative and a reference to Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu. Negrin’s eloquence and refulgent tone does it proud, with a wonderful translucence to his colouristic sense.
The CD partners the Mompou with Granados’s Goyescas, six pieces of sultry and atmospheric soundworld inspired by the drawings of Goya; later the composer used these pieces as a basis for an opera of the same title. Again Negrin is alive to intimacy of expression, offering a particularly rewarding account of the most famous of the set, ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale’. He has a beautiful feel for the pacing of rubato and in both Granados and Mompou lets the quietest, most reflective passages pull their weight to the most powerful effect. Some of the Goya pictures are reproduced in the CD box, which is a nice touch. Recorded sound is suitably beautiful.