, October 2008
"10 Artistic Quality / 8 Sound Quality
Manuel Blancafort's exquisite, unpretentious keyboard idiom will enchant anyone who loves this composer's older, better-known colleague Mompou. In my review of Volume 1 in pianist Miquel Villalba's complete Blancafort cycle for Naxos, I claimed that the composer's remarkable harmonic sophistication, textural refinement, and communicative warmth are positively addictive. This comment certainly holds true of the four piano cycles encompassing Volume 2, all dating from Blancafort's early 20s (he lived 90 years, yet he spent much of his adult life working outside of music, for an insurance company). The melodies are modest yet never less than catchy and evocative. Once again, Villalba plays beautifully on every selection--and goes way beyond merely playing the notes. Listen for example to the second to last of the 8 Peces per a piano, "Adéu a l'ermita" (Farewell to the chapel), where the modulating left-hand ostinato and long, introspective right-hand lines seem to emerge from different instruments; or notice the fresh and distinct characterizations he gives each of the six pieces in the Jocs i danses al camp. The engineering is somewhat boxy, giving the impression of a big piano in a small room, but it still does pianist and composer ample justice. And as with Volume 1, Villabala provides informative and heartfelt annotations."