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Jed Distler, September 2008

The third entry in Naxos' complete survey of Manuel Blancafort's piano music only reinforces my enthusiasm for this composer's inventive keyboard writing, gorgeous harmonic sense, and heartfelt lyricism. If you like his older, better known colleague Mompou, chances are that you'll adore Blancafort too. He makes Debussy's impressionistic use of pentatonic scales absolutely his own in the four Camins, and gets plenty of emotional mileage from the simplest melodies throughout the four pieces encompassing Cants intims II. While the influence of Catalan folk song permeates the larger-scaled Pastoral en sol, a few strategically placed dissonances keep your ears on guard. Pianist Miquel Villalba upholds the reference standards he's set in Volumes 1 and 2. His warm tone, sensitive ear for nuance, and utterly natural phrase shaping almost are as addictive as the music itself. Happily, Naxos' sound quality offers noticeable improvement over previous installments, and the pianist again offers superb, informative booklet notes.

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