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James Harrington
American Record Guide, March 2013

The two vocal works are in a different sound world and emotional intensity. Freund’s beautiful soprano voice is complemented by her perfect sense of pitch. There is not an ugly note even in the lowest range of her voice. Her high notes are crystalline, and the voice is perfectly positioned in the sonic field that follows along in the tradition of Bartok’s Sonata for 2 Pianos and Percussion.

Booklet notes by Jordi Maso, with full texts and good English translations. Excellent recorded sound. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Lee Passarella
Audiophile Audition, January 2013

…Stylistically, Montsalvatge blends elements of Impressionism and neo-Classicism, while his later work is often highly chromatic, grading into atonality and free serialism. Quite a range of influences. Luckily, Montsalvatge nonetheless has an individual voice.

The brief Barcelona Blues…reflects Montsalvatge’s longstanding “passion for ballet.” Even when he’s not writing music specifically for the stage, there is an often balletic quality about his music…

Sum Vermis…and the more varied and colorful 5 invocaciones are the most memorable works on the program. The latter piece…best demonstrates the emotional range Montsalvagte is capable of in his music.

…Barcelona-born Jordi Masó is a skilled and sympathetic interpreter of his countryman’s work and gets expert support from Miquel Villlalba and Barcelona 216. Soprano Pia Freund…brings passion, intelligence, and a beautiful instrument to the last two works on the program. All this music is captured in bright, atmospheric sound. Recommended without hesitation. © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, January 2013

This is the third release in the Naxos series of piano music by the Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge and it concentrates on his output for two pianos. A substantial part of the disc is comprised of two late song cycles, where the piano is part of a larger ensemble, adding sonic variety to the program…On this evidence, two pianos stimulated the composer’s creative juices in interesting ways.

The short and tender Homenatge…was written in tribute to Victoria de los Angeles and is based on a Catalan folk song she often included in her recital programs. The Three Divertimentos are lighter fare, more overtly Spanish in their musical language, but they share with the other works the composer’s typical clarity of texture…rhythmic zest, and harmony spiced with slight acidity…the Invocaciones al Crucificado…see Montsalvatge on home ground. The uncompromising emotional spirit of the saeta is captured in this work, and especially in this expressive performance by an excellent, vibrant soprano, Pia Freund.

Jordi Masó has recorded a great deal of Spanish music for Naxos, but there is nothing routine about his playing. All the performances on this disc…are first-rate. Masó and Villalba’s warmth definitely suits the divertimentos, and the song cycles are vividly done. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

MusicWeb International, November 2012

This is the third volume in Naxos’s survey of the piano music, all performed by Jordi Masó…

Montsalvatge’s music is nothing if not eclectic, ranging across a number of styles, particularly neo-classicism and impressionism. Many of his works also draw on serialism and polytonality, and in later years he was seen as part of the European avant-garde. All these ingredients pop up in various arrangements on this CD. The punchy Three Divertimentos bring some exotic flavour…—rhythms and melodies from Scotland and Cuba.

Variety is the keynote of Calidoscopio too, in which Montsalvatge delivers a dazzling array of styles promised in the title, yet all still in a highly accessible idiom. Jordi Masó and Miquel Villalba give suitably laid-back but technically poised accounts of these works.

…[these] are recorded rarities and for anyone with an ear sympathetic to late Stravinsky or Orff, likely to prove memorable, especially given the impressive instrumental performances on offer here.

Sound quality is very good, warm and intimate. Jordi Masó’s booklet notes are detailed and well written/translated. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2012

Naughty but nice, Jordi Masó and Miquel Villalba open this disc of music for two keyboards with Xavier Montsalvatge’s homage to the jazz age in Barcelona Blues. Then for me a big surprise with the atonal opening to Calidoscopio, for my previous encounters with the composer had always been in a world of tonality. It lasts for a few moments before returning to his early influences coming from his deep love of French music—Debussy in particular—a fact that keeps cropping up as we pass through the forty-two years covered by the six works. At time it borders on light music, the naughtiness of music from Les Six colouring the whole of Tres divertimentos sobre temas de autores olvidados. One would have to describe Sum Vermis (I am a worm) as bizarre, but, as the booklet relates, the work’s commission did not find him totally happy with the poem on which it is bases. Scored for soprano, two pianos and percussion, it[s] story of man’s wretchedness is both disturbing and moving. The disc ends with the most extended work, the 5 Invocaciones al Crucificado (5 Invocations to the Crucified Christ). Its overtly modern textures are quite different to anything I have heard from him before. He apparently thought it one of his finest scores, but its unusual scoring for voice, piano, celesta, harp, three flutes, double bass and five percussion makes it difficult to programme in concert. It was a delight to listen to the pianist, Jordi Masó, his playing right at the top end of the market, and this is yet another example of his performing excellence…Masó’s partner, Miquel Villalba is equally outstanding. Superb sound quality. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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