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Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, October 2011

As musical discoveries go this is an intriguing disc. Not only is Mompou unfamiliar to me but the items in this collection—discovered by the composer’s wife in 1985—will also be unknown to you. This world premiere recording is just the kind of release that makes Naxos such a rewarding label; and, as I’ve discovered, many of these super-budget issues are a steal at any price. As for the Barcelona-born pianist Jordi Masó, I’m pleased to report that although he’s also new to me, his playing here is both distinguished and delightful. Factor in a splendid, atmospheric recording and this collection becomes irresistible.

There’s much to enjoy here—L’eco is so cleverly done—the three Impressions de Muntanya (Mountain impressions) and imperious Pensament (Thought) infused with Mediterranean warmth and piquancy; and every note is presented in the most natural and unpretentious way. The bell-like Petits preludis (Little preludes) are an absolute delight as well, the two Arabesques rather more hard-edged than the Debussian variety. But that’s not to suggest there’s anything stiff or unyielding about Masó’s playing, the soft, pastel wash that opens Estanys de paper de plata (Tinfoil pools) nicely contrasted with the bold brush strokes that follow.

One of the many pleasures of this disc is hearing how beautifully Masó integrates left and right hand, especially in the stamp and click of the whimsically titled Dansa dels tres reis que han caigut del camell (Dance of the three kings who have fallen off their camels) and the modulations of Cançó i dansa del pessebre (Nativity song and dance). The recital ends with the sonorous, but judiciously weighted, Les hores (The hours) and the insistent Ball pla (Low dance).

All this, and lucid liner-notes from the pianist himself, makes for a most attractive issue. Indeed, I’ve added the rest of this Mompou cycle to my ever-growing wish-list; I suggest you do the same.

Nominating Naxos releases as Bargains of the Month is becoming a habit with me, but when the music—and musicianship—is as assured as this, nothing else will do.

Bryce Morrison
Gramophone, October 2011

Recently rediscovered miniatures point towards the mature Mompou

Wilfred Mellers, in his superb study Le jardin retrouvé, called Mompou “a minor muse” and for Masó, who offers complete works rather than fragments, you will hear the genesis of much that followed.

All these works, with their charming and often idiosyncratic titles (“pastoral in the fog”, “the girls come back from the country”, “tinfoil pools”, “dance of the three kings who have fallen off their camels”) alternate occasional bursts of gaiety with more frequent moods of nostalgia and introspection. The influences of Poulenc (more potent than Satie) and Debussy are paramount (Tinfoil Pools—Estanys de paper de plata—is remarkably close to Debussy’s Prélude “La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune”) and there are memories, too, of Mompou’s beloved Chopin.

All this music is finely recorded and played with special devotion by Jordi Masó, who also provides a superbly informed essay.

Joshua Meggitt
Cyclic Defrost, July 2011

Naxos have unearthed another 120+ odd minutes worth of early experiments and unpublished manuscripts. …these early sketches offer valuable insight into his compositional methods and, more importantly, have revealed some beautiful, powerful music.

For listeners new to Mompou this volume of his earliest music makes as fine an introduction as any, revealing a composer with a unique voice but one very attuned to his epoch: strongly influenced by the music of France, particularly the more restrained work of mpressionists Ravel and Debussy, but above all Satie. This a fabulous collection recommended as a corrective to those enchanted by the childishly simplistic pseudo-neo-classical peddled by the likes of Dustin O’Halloran and Max Richter.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2011

Just over a year ago we were celebrating a disc of previously unknown piano works by Frederic Mompou, which came as an unexpected fifth volume to the complete cycle. Now we have a sixth—and presumably final disc—much of its contents discovered by Mompou’s wife gathering dust in a folder on top of their wardrobe, and would have dated back to her husband’s student days. The remainder was unearthed by Masó in his researches at the Biblioteca de Catalunya. Mompou was a pianist of phenomenal technique who preferred the solitary life working as a composer, a fact reflected in works that were of a delicate quality. He was also highly critical of his music and probably destroyed much that he wrote. The present disc contains works he did not think suitable for publication, and, like so much ‘discovered’ music, raises questions of the ethic of releasing into the public domain material when the composer is unable to prevent it. There is no doubt that the pianist, Jordi Masó, is doing it for what he believes are the right reasons, and when we hear track 13, the vividly coloured Pastoral salvatge, we are certainly in Masó’s debt. Yet at the same time there are tracks that fall well below the inspiration of Mompou’s published scores. He seems at his most persuasive in the pieces based on dance rhythm or when he was creating musical pictures of visual scenes. In all there are twenty-four pieces, many lasting little more than a minute, the most extensive coming with 5 Impressions written in his maturity, the first ‘impression’ later recycled in Souvenirs de l’Exposition. All are receiving their first recordings, Masó’s playing is, as it has been throughout, a model of clarity and perception.

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