Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

French-influenced piano music by a Catalan master

From June 17, 2010:


This CD makes an appealing introduction to the music of the Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002). His early Three Impromptus won the young composer a prize and enough money to make the obligatory trip to Paris, where his early French influences (Debussy & Satie are mentioned by pianist Jordi Maso in his excellent liner notes, but I also hear Ravel) were reinforced by the avante garde Parisian piano writing of the mid-30s.

So it is Milhaud & the rest of Les Six, jazz, Messiaen, and the poly-rhythms of the Caribbean and Latin America that one hears echoed in the remaining works. But Montsalvatge's own voice also emerges, especially in the more substantial Ritmes (1942), Divagacion (1950), and Sonatine pour Yvette (1961).

The programme that Maso has chosen for this first disc in what looks like a complete survey of Montsalvatge's piano works shows the composer's great range and variety. It comes to a pleasing conclusion with a World Premiere Recording of the piano and string orchestra version of Recondita Armonia, originally written for string quintet. Jordi Maso continues his assured playing in this concertante work, ably assisted by the Granollers Chamber Orchestra under Francesc Guillen. Maso makes a strong case for Montsalvatge's piano music, and I look forward to listening to the second disc in his series.

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