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 Post subject: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:12 pm 
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I've decided to make my way through Mompou's "Musica Callada" (music without sound) which is a set of 28 pieces. To play through the entire set takes a little over an hour. But Mompou actually published the set in four separate books, so I am going to submit these pieces by book. Below are the first nine pieces individually, followed by all nine put together into one file so someone could listen to the entire book without stopping if they want to.

The music in this series is like nothing I have played before. Yes, you can hear that it's definitely Mompou, but he goes way, way out there as far as harmonies go! Some of the pieces are very short and may sound easy, but really they were hard to learn because I had to keep checking almost every chord to see if I was playing it correctly. You can't tell just by listening. Also, sometimes the simplicity of certain pieces was also hard to play well; I felt naked with no place to hide.

When I thought about posting all this, I was going to write up some information and descriptions, but instead I will just cut and paste from the back of a Naxos CD. The paragraphs are by book, so here is the information about book 1:

The first of the four volumes, each with a different number of pieces, was published in 1959 and at once sets the pattern, the character of the first piece indicated by the title Angelico, with a melody between the popular and the religious, accompanied by chords of great simplicity, imitating the ringing of bells. The second piece, Lent, develops a single motif among dissonant chords, imbued with characteristic melancholy. The clarity of the almost popular melody of the following piece, Placide, conceals a considerable achievement in harmony and instrumental register that suggest a carillon, with a melody well known as a tuning signal for a leading Spanish radio station. The fourth piece, Afflitto e penoso ('afflicted and suffering'), returns to the world of the second. Its harsh, tortured harmonies lead to a final resolution in E minor, unexpected after the tonally imprecise opening. The following piece has no tempo indication but the required mood, legato metallico, is very important for Mompou, who had called the first chord he devised a 'metallic chord'. The texture is dominated by the repetition of notes as in Chopin's Preludes No.6 and No. 15. For the sixth piece Mompou returns to his characteristic sadness, imbued with almost aristocratic distinction in the grief implicit in its turns of melody and accompanying dissonances. The seventh piece, also marked Lento, adds one passage after another, with a melody of unequivocally popular character at its heart, until the return of the first. The penultimate piece, Semplice, a concise miniature, also has recourse to the mood of traditional song. The first volume ends with a piece, Lento, that captures again the more abstract character of some of the preceding pieces, with a more than usually intense use of polyphony and harmonic dissonances.


Mompou - Musica Callada no. 1 "Angelico"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 2 "Lent"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 3 "Placide"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 4 "Afflitto e penoso"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 5
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 6 "Lento"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 7 "Lento"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 8 "Semplice"
Mompou - Musica Callada no. 9 "Lento"

Mompou - Musica Callada book 1

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:10 pm 
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Little to quibble about the playing but I'm not sure about the music. There is probably a reason Musica Callada is not by far as popular as most of Mompou's other work. It's too uniformly ruminative, dare I say bleak. Full of gorgeous sounds but little in the way of entertainment. One would wish for Mompou get out of his sonnambulistic trance, stop gazing into the distance, and have some fun. I love Mompou's music dearly but I think this set is mostly for the Mompou completists. Just a personal view of course, FWIW.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:43 pm 
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Very moving collection, with the last piece being quite a perfect way to conclude it. The more severe pieces remind me of late Faure, while the more popular-sounding pieces remind me of Rebikov, for some strange reason. You play these with a great, stately simplicity, though there may be no other feasible way to play these pieces! I await the rest of the books with much anticipation.


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:07 pm 
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Hi Monica,

I had a listen to your recordings. This music at times seems simple and repetitive at times but I wouldn't call it "easy listening," I liked your, as Jonathan says "simple" playing. I think it doesn't call for flashly dynamics but rather the allure is in the simplicity. Maybe this type of music inspired Phillip Glass et. al of the Minimalist music crowd. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:53 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
This is fab. This music seems to have a secret recipe by which its simplicity cuts straight to the core of your soul.

Simplicity and "easy listening" are not always the same thing, and this music is not meant to "entertain" or be "fun". Indeed I would go so far as to say that music which merely entertains, without making at least some lasting impression, is ultimately pointless.

This, on the other hand, is serious stuff, its bleakness and apparent dreariness, being vehicles to facilitate introspection. You would almost think that this music should have a health warning on it: "Do not listen to this if you're feeling depressed, pessimistic, suicidal, because it's apt to make things worse." But I'm not so sure, I think it has the power to cut through the barrier between the subconscious dream world and reality in a positive way; far from being coffin music, it can help cure you.

Keep it coming, Monica!


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:56 pm 
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Thank you all for listening/commenting. I knew this would not be everyone's cup of tea. It wasn't mine either at first. But for the past four or five Friday nights, I put this music on softly as I was in bed going to sleep and it grew on me. I listen to Mompou himself play the music and so I've tried playing similarly. Playing 'simple' is very hard to do. It takes such concentration and extremely careful weight control on the keys.

A couple pieces in the second book are the most lugubrious and bleak music I've ever heard!! Really, it's like you're being pushed down into hell or something.... One of my sons came into the piano room yesterday while I was practicing and said, "Mom, why are you playing such scary music all the time?"

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:27 pm 
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@Rainer - I missed your comments before because I was typing my own. But I just saw them now and it's funny how you mention simplicity and dream world.... I wondered if by listening to this music as I drift off to sleep if it would stick in my head, or maybe if I'd remember how Mompou plays it. Or if by chance I could actually hear the music after I've drifting off to sleep. Well, that didn't happen - I never remembered hearing the music when I woke up the next day.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:08 pm 
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Quote:
I never remembered hearing the music when I woke up the next day.
Ah, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there! Or do you generally remember everything you dream?

I suppose in a way your son has a point, calling it "scary", as there are places where the music can be imagined as background to a nightmare. But I think that's rather too negative. Perhaps "haunting" would be better here; that's more neutral and doesn't have to have so negative a connotation.

Perhaps to be most receptive to this music you have to be in a certain mood, and for some reason the words "vacant" and "pensive" have just shot into my head. Like Wordsworth's daffodils "flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude", this music is for your inward ear, and it should "fill your heart with pleasure", not your mind with horror.


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:40 pm 
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Maybe the music stayed in the far recesses of my mind, I don’t know….I don’t remember all my dreams. Sure wish I did, though. And I really wish I knew how to have lucid dreams! Wouldn’t that be great if you could control your dreams? I’d have the best dreams ever!!

But ‘scary’ is fairly accurate. A couple of the pieces would be perfect for Halloween time. And then there are others that are dark and depressing with a little spark here and there of gentleness and sweetness. But it doesn’t last….. Still, overall the music is very soothing. Except for the one that starts off sweetly, and then suddenly breaks into this shrill, loud, and harsh part that cuts right through your bones. That one made me sit straight up in bed...haha.

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:56 pm 
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Location: New Jersey, USA
Monica,
Bravo. I liked 3 and 7 a lot - 3 "sounds like Mompou" to me (I know this composer only from this site, however!) - but "Number 5" is unforgettable music.
I hope you get a lot of downloads on his music; this recording is great. Not just your playing, either, it really "sounds like the piano" if you know what I mean. This is the kind of thing that can get the Society some attention, because you've recorded so much of his work.
I saved it to disk, but unfortunately in the aggregate. I'm not always in the mood for the whole thing, but will probably want to hear #5 often. So I'll just have to download that one separately.

When I was young, I fell asleep every night for a year listening to Mozart's 40th symphony. All these long years later I can still sing every part. I think it's rather like hypnotic suggestion. You play these pieces like you know them inside and out, and that might be a factor.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - Musica Callada book 1
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:07 pm 
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Awwww, thank you, Stu! Maybe listening to certain music repeatedly as you fall asleep does make the music seep into your brain. That's interesting that you listened to Mozart.
And I think it's also interesting to learn which of these pieces people like most. My favorite of book 1 is no. 9. Since you like no. 5 so much, do you also like Chopin's "Raindrop" prelude? I read somewhere that Mompou intentionally alluded to that prelude with this no. 5 piece - all the repeating notes....

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano


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