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Mompou: Silent Music

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iTunes Review

The Catalan composer and pianist Federico Mompou’s style grew out of French impressionism; some early pieces immediately bring Debussy to mind. But the influence of Erik Satie can also be heard on Mompou’s masterwork, Musica Callada (“Silent Music”), a work consisting of 28 miniatures, divided into four books, that Mompou wrote between 1959 and 1967. The music is enigmatic, minimalist, and entrancing. The piece was first performed by Alicia de Larrocha, who was one of the composer’s greatest interpreters, in 1974. Here, the excellent pianist Jenny Lin brings out the essence of this pure, intimate piece. Unlike other great works in the piano literature, Musica Callada does not demand bravura performance, but it does require great insight and sensitivity. It’s quiet throughout most of its length, and one can make connections to Morton Feldman or the Bill Evans-influenced jazz pianists who record for ECM. The album comes to a nice close with Secreto, which is part of Impresiones Intimas, a piano set completed in 1914.

Customer Reviews

10 out of 10

Música Callada (Music of Silence) is a very special work, one of the most beautiful and elusive in the entire piano repertoire. It is extremely difficult to perform. On the one hand, there's the temptation to stretch each piece out hypnotically, if monotonously, while quicker speeds preserve the music's melodic essence at the expense of much of its atmosphere and harmonic richness. For although much of the music is indeed quiet, and none of it moves quickly, it is all meaningful.

Mompou himself found the perfect balance between incident and repose, and of all the pianists since, Jenny Lin arguably comes closest to doing the same, only in much better sound. It's not so much that her tempos match Mompou's own (she's actually not copying him--it would hardly be possible in a work containing 28 individual pieces), but rather that her phrasing and sense of timing let the music breathe and sing with its own special poetry. To take just one example, consider the sadness that Lin finds in the fourth piece, "Afflitto e penoso", by allowing the piece's harmonic color time to speak simply and eloquently.

Another secret of her success is the splendid equilibrium between left and right hands. The treble gleams, bell-like, while the sonorous bass lines carry the music right through the many pauses, aided in no small degree by discretely timed use of the pedals. "Secreto", from the early Impresiones intimas, makes the perfect encore and rounds out the program in a most satisfying way. If Música Callada represents Mompou's masterpiece, then this beautifully engineered disc must be its finest modern recording. It deserves a home in every serious piano music collection.

- David Hurwitz

Música callada, Jenny Lin

Fascinating interpretation, haunting Mompou

Biography

Born: 1973 in Taiwan

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Jenny Lin is one of those adventurous pianists unafraid to tackle contemporary repertory or to explore the works of lesser-known composers of generations past. Ironically, her repertory is inclusive of many of the standards, including concertos by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and others. But the list of modern and contemporary composers in her repertory is staggering: Bolcom, Boulez, Cage, Harrison, Ligeti, Ornstein, Pärt, Rzewski, and Ustvolskaya, to name but...
Full Bio

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Mompou: Silent Music, Jenny Lin
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Classical, Music
  • Released: Apr 01, 2011

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