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 Post subject: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:52 pm 
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I recently purchase three books of Mompou's music that were just recently published for the first time in 2010. The material consists of scores from his early period - up until 1919 and when he went to Paris for the first time and was greatly influenced by Faure. Yet one can clearly hear the beginnings of Mompou's distinct sound and harmonies - many of the pieces are snippets and sketches of themes he would use in some later works. So far, I'm really enjoying this journey into new Mompou music and my only regret is that I don't enough time to learn and record more at a time. Hence, here are the first five in book 1.

First, a note: There are no dynamic markings or pedal markings whatsoever in the music. According to the notes in the score written by Mac McClure, Mompou's family had owned and managed a bell factory. One of the special offers of the factory was that they guaranteed the exact note that a bell would produce. Mompou as a child was fascinated by the metallic sounds that came from the factory and loved to spend hours there listening to the sounds and vibrations that were produced as the bells were being designed and made. Therefore, I decided to take into account Mompou's interest in the sound of bells and used quite a lot of pedal in most of the music here. Not sure if that is a good decision or not; I've not heard any recordings of these pieces and I also hope my dynamics and tempi are appropriate.

The first three pieces are from a set titled, "Impressions de Muntanya" (Mountain Impressions). Written in 1910 when Mompou was only 17 years old!
1. Dansa del poble (Village dance)
2. El repos dins del temple (Rest in the temple)
3. Pastoral

Mompou - Impressions de Muntanya 1: Dansa del poble
Mompou - Impressions de Muntanya 2: El repos dins del temple
Mompou - Impressions de Muntanya 3: Pastoral


The second set is titled, "Dues Impressions" (Two Impressions)

1. Barri de platja (Beach Neighborhood) - clearly, Mompou used the middle section in his Cancion d danzas no. 3 - one of my favorites! Neato!!
2. Cami de muntanya (Mountain path) - again, another recognizable piece - this one used in another of my favorites - his "Jeunes filles au jardin" (Girls in the Garden).

Mompou - Dues Impressions 1: Barri de platja
Mompou - Dues Impressions 2: Cami de muntanya

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:01 am 
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Thanks for posting these--they're very cute pieces, delightful to listen to!
pianolady wrote:
...First, a note: There are no dynamic markings or pedal markings whatsoever in the music.

Then you have a license to invent whatever dynamic markings take your fancy--don't just play everything mf! Of course you don't want to overdo it--it would be a shame to spoil the simplicity and freshness of these pieces--but there's certainly room for you to create more contrast and occasionally have more sense of direction.

How many more of these pieces are there? I'm looking forward to the next instalment!

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:54 am 
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Thank you, Alexander. Also, some of the pieces have no tempo markings in the beginning, either. I'm not used to having such little instruction in the score, but at least there are bar lines and time signatures here (these things are sometimes lacking in Mompou's music).

There are about 45 pieces altogether in the three books. I'll probably submit another three pieces in a couple days, which will make a total of eight so far. But then I probably will have to put the rest on the back burner for a little while.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:13 pm 
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Very good and with an interesting story attached to them! I have just touched Mompou's music but it's on the pile of music I must take on one day. Definitely deserves a tweet ;).

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:09 am 
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Hi Monica,
I just had a listen to these. I think these are wonderful little gems and shold be used in teaching for literature that emphasizes color and harmony. The melodies are not particulalry memorable IMO, but they have wonderful atmosphere. I don't know the works but I think you do a very credible job of them. Of the first set, I found the ending of the second one strange compositionally (but as you say, this is juvenalia). The 3rd of the first set has a something about it that makes me think Christmas, of all things, :D with the open 5ths making me think of common-folk celebrating.

Thanks for the posts.
Eddy

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:07 am 
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Wow, you have learned these very quickly, and yet they don't sound like that. I welcome your choice of more pedal, it makes for so much warmer colors than they would have with your usual style of playing. I agree with Alexander that they are lacking in dynamics, and there could perhaps be a little more rubato and freedom. But otherwise there is nothing to criticize here.

I'm not convinced that the first three are very good music, sounding rather juvenile and not really memorable, but the last two certainly are, foreshadowing (or maybe belonging to) Mompou's mature style. I'm sure I heard the second of these before, could be he re-used that too. Or maybe I remember it from Marcel Worms' excellent CD of these works.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:35 pm 
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@Robert - Thank you.
The rest of the story is that Mompou’s wife one day found two large boxes that contained the music which is in these newly published books. Really, they are Mompou’s harmony studies and his first forays into composition. According to the text in the opening of the book, in 1985, two years before Mompou’s death, his wife (also a pianist) would play through the music in the boxes and upon hearing his music, Mompou cheered up. Then these boxes were placed on top of a wardrobe and remained there until months after Mompou’s wife’s death in 2007. And then they were almost not found! Representatives of the Biblioteca de Catalynya went to the then unoccupied Mompou residence to collect all of Mompou’s papers (which had been prearranged between the two parties), but did not see the boxes left on top of the wardrobe. Fortunately, they were found months later.


@Eddy - It is totally appropriate what you say about the melodies in these pieces not being particularly memorable. In his early years, Mompou was constantly searching for his sound and expression. He once said, “During the early period, I was almost obsessed with the harmonics and not really with the melodic line. I thought that in any case the melodic line would come from the harmonics.”

And I do know what you mean about hearing Christmas music. There is a piece coming up in the next set that to me sounds like “Silver Bells”. :lol:


@Chris - Thank you. These pieces are only one or two pages, sometimes three, but the notes are spread out nicely and so it’s easy to read. Plus, I am totally ignoring stuff I should be practicing and instead have been playing out of these books.

As far as recognizing the second of the Dues Impressions – as I said in my first post, this is the melody used in “Jeunes filles au jardin", which is a fairly popular piece.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:42 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
@Chris - Thank you. These pieces are only one or two pages, sometimes three, but the notes are spread out nicely and so it’s easy to read. Plus, I am totally ignoring stuff I should be practicing and instead have been playing out of these books.
Yes, it's great to do record some easy stuff in between larger projects.

pianolady wrote:
As far as recognizing the second of the Dues Impressions – as I said in my first post, this is the melody used in “Jeunes filles au jardin", which is a fairly popular piece.
Oh yes you did. I think I must have played that set at some stage.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:17 pm 
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These are very nice, Monica. I knew that despite your other commitments you wouldn't be able to resist making a start on these new pieces.
And it's all my fault for having drawn them to your attention. So stop it right now and get on with your competition prep!

I think your fears that your pedalling might be too much are unfounded. The way you do it works very well.

Where there aren't many instructions re dynamics and tempo, one needs to be driven by instinct, which clearly is going to be very subjective. It's interesting, even though I'm not generally a fast-tempo person, that my instinct for tempo differs so much from yours as far as Barri de platja is concerned. Going from the free taster page on the publisher's website (I haven't yet decided whether to buy these pieces, so haven't seen the 2nd page), I would take the introduction and middle section at more or less the same tempo (and you do this too), but because (as you point out) the middle section was adapted to one of the Sardana motifs of Cançó i Dansa 3, it surprised me to find you playing it much more slowly than there. I guess you wanted to savour the bells in the introduction so much that you ended up dwelling on them, at the expense of suppressing the hustle and bustle of the beach quarter. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:28 pm 
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Hi Monica,

I had a listen to all of your new Mompou recordings. I enjoyed listening to them! The way you play the reflections of muntanya pieces, to my ears sustenuto and legato (and as you say quite a lot of pedal) really captures the long decay of a bell ringing so I think you have accomplished that style in your interpretation :)

The Dues Impressions do sound more mature, the first sounds a little like Strauss's "Traumerei" and the second like Debussy's "Reverie." Again, I think you use the pedal well in these pieces to space out the phrases making them sound distant and otherworldly.

Glad you are enjoying the journey into new Mompou music!

Look forward to the next pieces,

Riley

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:29 pm 
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pianoman342 wrote:
Hi Monica,

I had a listen to all of your new Mompou recordings. I enjoyed listening to them! The way you play the reflections of muntanya pieces, to my ears sustenuto and legato (and as you say quite a lot of pedal) really captures the long decay of a bell ringing so I think you have accomplished that style in your interpretation :)

The Dues Impressions do sound more mature, the first sounds a little like Strauss's "Traumerei" and the second like Debussy's "Reverie." Again, I think you use the pedal well in these pieces to space out the phrases making them sound distant and otherworldly.

Glad you are enjoying the journey into new Mompou music!

Look forward to the next pieces,

Riley


Thanks, Riley. You know, I thought of you when I was working on these. They were written when Mompou was a budding young composer - just like you! :)


rainer wrote:
These are very nice, Monica. I knew that despite your other commitments you wouldn't be able to resist making a start on these new pieces.
And it's all my fault for having drawn them to your attention. So stop it right now and get on with your competition prep!

I think your fears that your pedalling might be too much are unfounded. The way you do it works very well.

Where there aren't many instructions re dynamics and tempo, one needs to be driven by instinct, which clearly is going to be very subjective. It's interesting, even though I'm not generally a fast-tempo person, that my instinct for tempo differs so much from yours as far as Barri de platja is concerned. Going from the free taster page on the publisher's website (I haven't yet decided whether to buy these pieces, so haven't seen the 2nd page), I would take the introduction and middle section at more or less the same tempo (and you do this too), but because (as you point out) the middle section was adapted to one of the Sardana motifs of Cançó i Dansa 3, it surprised me to find you playing it much more slowly than there. I guess you wanted to savour the bells in the introduction so much that you ended up dwelling on them, at the expense of suppressing the hustle and bustle of the beach quarter. :)


Thanks, Rainer. And yes, it is your fault! :) Seriously, I'm grateful to you for directing my attention to these books. I am so much enjoying them (but I am getting myself into a little trouble as far as time goes).

Regarding the “Barri de platja”, the opening is marked Pesant which I translated to mean slow and ponderous. There is no other tempo marking at the start of the middle section and so I just continued with the same tempo throughout the whole piece. Also, this middle section comes off a bunch of slow half-notes and the middle section is mostly eighth notes so I think there is a perception of it being a faster tempo. We have to keep in mind that these were Mompou’s 'experiments' and if he used bits and pieces in other pieces, he could have chosen to use different tempi for the ‘new’ pieces. Well, that’s just my two cents worth. Maybe it sounds like lame reasoning, but I think it makes sense, and it works for me! :lol: I do appreciate your opinion and when I play the piece again I will think about the issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:12 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Regarding the “Barri de platja”, the opening is marked Pesant which I translated to mean slow and ponderous.
Well, literally it just means heavy. I took it to refer more to character than tempo, but I guess the latter can make sense too, and of course they would tend to go hand in hand to some extent.
Quote:
We have to keep in mind that these were Mompou’s 'experiments' and if he used bits and pieces in other pieces, he could have chosen to use different tempi for the ‘new’ pieces.
Yes, you're quite right.
Quote:
Well, that’s just my two cents worth. Maybe it sounds like lame reasoning, but I think it makes sense, and it works for me!
Not lame, no, and it does make sense. It's really quite exciting having to guess how it "should" go. I now see that wikipedia suggests that a pesante tempo should be in the range 60 to 100 (but is that a modern view or did it already prevail in 1912?), and indeed you seem to be playing this at about 60 (for quarter notes). When you can next spare a moment (which I know may not be for a while), just try it at 100. Of course, having accustomed yourself to 60, 100 will at first feel ridiculously fast, but sleep on it and don't resist any "attempts" by the tempo to convince you.

I feel somewhat vindicated in my criticism to find that apparently Jordi Masó takes it at the faster tempo too. Honest, I only just discovered this, and I feel thrilled that my intuition appears to agree with his on this occasion. I don't have his recording to listen to, but the timing in the catalogue is 55 seconds against your 90, which is almost exactly the duration ratio you would expect for a 100/60 tempo ratio. :wink: But we have to remember that professionals have to guess too, and there isn't necessarily always a good reason to prefer their intuition to one's own. So I recommend that you not look at his timings or get hold of his recordings until after you've first used your own intuition for interpreting these pieces.


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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:59 am 
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Hi Monica,

I listened to all of these pieces posted. These miniatures have a very fresh sound to them--bright and colorful. Even when Mompou composed in minor mode, there is still a vibrancy present, which comes through in your playing. I like Mompou's harmonies and sometimes unpredictable progressions too. Nothing in this music is overstated--it's very youthful, evocative and descriptive. This is my first hearing, of course, but I believe you've captured the mood and spirit of these character pieces very well. Your playing sounds confident, despite the lack of markings by the composer, so I believe you've made these pieces your own. This is one of the joys of performing and recording unknown, obscure and very neglected piano literature. You become one of the earlier exponents of the music and play a part in shaping the performance practices. Where Mompou is a favorite of yours, I'm sure this "new music" will bring you pleasure for a long time!

David

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:59 pm 
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Hi David, and thank you! Fresh sounds, unpredictable progressions, youthful evocative harmonies....Yes, that is Mompou! And it sounds like a good recipe, does it not? I'm going to make it for dinner tonight. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Mompou - early and recently published pieces
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:16 pm 
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rainer wrote:
I don't have his recording to listen to, but the timing in the catalogue is 55 seconds


Rainer - if you have a moment, can you please send me a link to that catalogue? Part of me does not want to see those numbers, and part of me does....

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