David's Review Corner
, February 2010
Two years ago I was giving an enthusiastic welcome to the fourth volume of piano music by the Spanish composer, Manual Blancafort, and now, with a degree of sadness, we have the final disc. Selling for the Victor Piano-Roll company founded by his father, composing was very much a pastime, though he found time to create a catalogue of music including orchestral, chamber and instrumental music. With the advent of recordings the piano-rolls fell out of demand, and earning a living became difficult, never again working in the field of music. His keyboard works did reflect the influences of both Ravel and Debussy, the present disc covering the whole of his career from 1930 to 1986, the year before his death. There is much to enjoy in the disc’s most extensive score, Cinc Nocturns, though I had reached track 9, Sardana sinfonica, before the music grabbed me, and from therein we move through his worthy tributes to Fauré, Turina and Mompou. The work that I love most of all is the Peces petites per a mans menudes (Simple pieces for little hands), his last work before his death. Written for his grandchildren, he spices the simplicity with ‘wrong notes’, easy, yet catchy rhythms, and the affection within the music is so utterly tangible. All credit to the pianist, Miquel Villalba, for delving deep—with the aid of Blancafort’s family—to find these manuscripts, and though there is not much technically to challenge a concert pianist, he plays with tenderness and proves a persuasive champion. The engineers have played their part in its success.