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V 1: Piano Music


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Xavier Montsalvatge was one of the most important composers to emerge from Catalonia during the 20th century. A great lover of dance music, Latin American and jazz rhythms, his fascination with the sparkling music of Ravel and Les Six, particularly Milhau

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
French-Influenced Catalan Piano Music June 21 2010
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002) is one of the lesser-known Spanish masters of the twentieth century. Prior to this CD the only music of his that I could say I truly knew was his 5 Canciones Negras (Five Black Songs) sung by Isabel Bayrakdarian on her disc called Azulão Isabel Bayrakdarian ~ Azulão, and influenced by music coming from the Caribbean. And as it happens there is more Caribbean-tinged music on this disc as the reintroduction to Spain of Spanish-flavored music from the West Indies became one of Montsalvatge's musical thumbprints. On this disc, for instance, are 'Ritmes' and the second of his 'Three Divertimentos' (the delicious 'Muy dulce'), each borrowing West Indian rhythms and melodic outlines. The music collected here spans three decades of his composing life, from 1933 ('Three Impromptus', long thought lost but which came to light after the composer's death and given their first recording) to 1961 ('Sonatine pour Yvette', written for his then five-year-old daughter Yvette and including a saucy rendition of one of her favorite songs, 'Ah, vous dirai-je Maman' ['Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' to English speakers]). There are several other works, including a heart-felt 'Elegia a Ravel'. And the disc concludes with 'Recóndita Armonía' for piano and string orchestra (also in its first recording), one of several settings Montsalvatge made of an early string quintet. It ends with a mysterious scherzo followed by finale that, until its coda -- a rumbustious tarantella -- is slithery, slidy night-piece.

Montsalvatge's style is not quite so easily recognized as Spanish as that of his older colleagues Falla, Granados or Albéniz. Instead, his most obvious influence is that of Les Six, Milhaud in particular. His use of polytonality is distinctive and personal.

Jordi Masó, the pianist on this disc, has made a specialty of the music of his native Spain. He has recorded music of Turina, e.g. Piano Music 1 and Mompou, e.g. Piano Music 1 as well as other 20th-c. Spanish and French composers. A fine pianist.

Scott Morrison
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
French-influenced piano music by a Catalan master June 17 2010
By Dean Frey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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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