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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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.
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.