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Mompou - Impressions Sobre La Vida D'un Miner

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by pianolady, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    "Impressions Sobre La Vida D'un Miner" or "Impressions on the Life of a Miner"

    Here is the next set in my new books of Mompou's early and never before published music. This one consists of only three short pieces written in 1914, so he was twenty-one years old. This set is also the only one Mompou composed as a true cycle, meaning the pieces are unified by a common theme and by the titles of each individual piece.

    As expected, one can clearly hear Mompou's unique harmonies and also his 'bells'; some high ones and some low ones - those giant bells that have that low-sounding bong when struck. In the last piece, I think it's easy to hear the rush of the miners going to work - maybe getting down into the mine on a rail car or whatever they used. Then comes the actual hard and grueling work, followed by the 'quitting time' bell at the very end.

    Anyway, each of these pieces had a couple tricky spots so I hope they came off okay. Also, any tempo shifts and held-out notes are written in the music (it's not me...)

    1: Premeres hores del mati - First hours of the morning

    2: Treballs i records - Work and memories

    3: Retornant del treball - Returning to work
     
  2. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    These are lovely. Just goes to show how early on in a composer's career his style can become sufficiently established as to be clearly recognisable from familiarity only with works produced much later on.

    They are very well played, and I did not notice any obvious signs of you struggling with "tricky spots". The more of these pieces I hear you play, the more tempted I am to go and buy the books. Because I don't have them, I can't comment on points of detail, with one exception: I do have the free sample pages from the publisher's website, and they include the first page of the middle piece, and there does seem to be an unwritten up-shift in tempo at bar 24.
    An interesting interpretation, but are there comments in the book to support it? How sure are you that your translation is accurate? I would have thought that "retornar de ..." means to return from, not to something. Wouldn't "returning to work" be "retornant al treball"?

    So if it means "Returning from work", then the feeling of "rush" which you sensed would be the miners leaving the mine eager to get home, not entering it eager to start work, and in that case whatever you thought might represent "hard and grueling work" (which we've really already had in the middle piece) would have to represent something else instead. Perhaps it's a weary walk to the train station, with your 'quitting time' bell perhaps being a bell on the train, rung to wake up any miners who may have fallen asleep, tired out from all that hard work, to make sure they get off at their stop instead of being taken to the end of the line and back again.
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well, yes, there is no tempo change indication at bar 24 and I did speed up a little bit there anyway. It just seems to me like it should sound more playful there. And nine bars later it is marked 'animant' so I purposely made it more sharp and detached in an effort to make it even more different.

    In the book, it specifically translates to "Returning of the work" and so I changed it a little to "Returning to work" which makes more sense to me. Therefore, I guess my interpretation is correct, but I don't speak Spanish fluently. Just going by what I read.

    Thank you for listening and commenting, Rainer! :) The next piece in the book is "Muntanya-dansa" from the set, "Impressions de la Garriga". A friend sent it to me a while ago and I already recorded it so I probably won't do so again. But it's a darling little piece, full of Mompou's spirit and playfulness. I think you'd like it!
     
  4. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very well played and nice music too! Typical Mompou interesting harmonies and even though it might seem a bit complex, my entire family listened to your recordings during our Sunday breakfast without complaining ;).

    But Monica, something went wrong on the site as the page for these recordings is blank.
     
  5. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very nice. Quite idiosyncratic music. I think I like no.2 the best; it has a wistful tinge and harmonically it's really rather interesting.
     
  6. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    That's fair enough, and I wouldn't even have mentioned it had you not said
    :twisted:
    Well, that lets you off the hook, then!
    Indeed it does, but I would regard the fact that you felt it needed changing as an indication that the translation in the book is to be regarded as suspect. I'd bet that the translation was done by a native Catalan or Spanish speaker who does not really know English well enough and simply used the usual dictionary translations for "de" and "el" (of which "del" is a contraction).
    I used to speak Spanish fluently, but it was four and a half decades ago, and I was never exposed to Catalan (it was "forbidden" when we were in Barcelona). Nevertheless I'm pretty sure the book translation is wrong. Google Translate agrees with me, but that's not saying much. Googling also reveals that the translation into Spanish of this title (which I trust them to have got right) is "Volviendo del trabajo", of which I'm even more sure (if I had to put a figure on it, I'd call it 99%) that it means "returning from work".
    It's one of the pieces of which the first page is in the free samples, so I've just printed it out and played it, and if that page is anything to go by, you're right!
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Robert. I was too tired last night to put the recordings on the main site. Just did it now, though. :)

    Thank you, Andrew. Mompou used some bits of no. 2 in another piece - I can't remember which one right now, but I know I've played it.

    Well, I'm still not sure. To me the piece sounds like the workers are going 'to' the mine and then working hard and then work is done. I can ask someone I know who speaks Catalan and would be able to tell me. I'll let you know I get the answer.
     
  8. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    Hi Monica,
    I finally had a listen to these; they are wonderfully melodious salon works and you played them very well! I especially liked the B section of the second work, and I find the language of the 3rd quite close to Debussy. Certainly these demonstrate great creativity and musicality on the part of a young Mompou. Thanks for expanding my exposure to the literature again!
     
  9. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very nice again. Not Mompou's greatest work but endearing and interesting pieces with lots of bell sounds. Are the detached notes in the middle of no.2 supposed to be like that ? IMO this part would sound better more legato.
    Interesting to learn about mining in Catalonia. I guess Mompou may have visited the salt mines of Cardona.
     
  10. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I kind of thought so. But as the link from Mompou's page was there already, I thought that maybe something went wrong.
     
  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for listening/commenting. Those notes in the middle section do not have any slurs, it's marked 'animant' (must mean animated, right?) and there are those triangle/staccato/pointy thingys on each first note of the triplets. I just wanted to make it sound different from the preceding section.

    I'm guessing that the miners were digging for metals to make the bells, but I'm not sure.

    Nope, I started to do it but could not keep my eyes open, so I quit for the night and went to bed.
     
  12. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    I think it means animating, not animated, in other words it should get faster gradually rather than suddenly.
    Animated would be 'animat' without the second 'n'.
    How sweet. What a lovely romantic idea, grandad sending young Fred to visit the bronze mines :) to source the best ores, to be refined in-house. It's as ridiculous as Mr Pleyel or Steinway visiting India or Africa to hand-pick the elephants whose tusks were going to provide the ivory for their piano keys.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for listening and commenting, Eddy! :)

    I don't understand what you are getting at, Rainer. Did I say something bad? I did not mean to. :?
     
  14. 88man

    88man Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Monica. Charming little gems played so well indeed. Where do you find all this music and the time? You and Chris are an inspiration. Your performance brings back memories of Barcelona and my trips through the Catalan countryside...

    Time out Celtics! All this mention of bells and work is no coincidence. Mompou comes from a family of bell makers. His grandfather owned a bell foundry. So, I don't think these titles are irrelevant descriptions. Bravo for Mompou for infusing the bell into his later music. These factories were usually set up close to where copper ores were found. I actually visited one of these European bell foundries in Innsbruck, the Grassmayr Bell Foundry, makers of bells since 1599. The finest (and largest at 40,000+ lbs.) ring E-flat and sometimes F. It's sad that these days, most bell foundries have closed or turned into museums at best.

    Childhood memories of bells are inescapable, and tend to resonate with you for a lifetime. For some, like Rachmaninov, bells haunted them, but for me, I love the sound of bells. I even make chimes for my garden, and during the long cold New England winters, I dream of hearing chimes again in the cool summer breezes of Cape Cod. I even recorded an improvisation based on a buoy bell in Nantucket Sound. Whenever I go to Europe, I always keep my ears open for church bells, as they don't ring here in the U.S. The sound of these European bells can be heard for miles. It takes one back to a simpler time in history...

    For Whom The Bell Tolls? It tolls for Mompou! And Monica, you can ring the bell anytime... :wink:

    George
     
  15. pianoman342

    pianoman342 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Monica,

    I had a listen to your latest impressions by Mompou. It was a pleasure! Your phrasing and dynamics for me create the "impressions" Mompou desires to capture in these pieces. I agree with you there are parts in these pieces that sound tricky. For example, about halfway into the 2nd piece with the repeating figures in the left hand. I am in awe how you can make them so portato and, I should mention, at tempo :shock: :) the first piece seems to have some hard parts, but perhaps the easiest in the set? The way you play the end of the third put a smile on my face! It is a tranquil ending that makes for a nice ending to the piece that seems to start so wildly :eek: and the set.

    Enjoyed listening to these,

    Riley
     
  16. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Good heavens, no. I apologise if I gave the impression that I thought such a thing of you.

    All I meant was that although it was a nice thought to imagine that there might be some sort of direct connection between the miner about whom Mompou wrote this set of pieces and the making of his grandfather's bells, it struck me as pretty unlikely that there would be. I reckon the miner in question would be just as likely, indeed more so, to be a generic miner of just about any mineral you could think of (salt, coal, lead, whatever) as a miner of the ores to make the metal for the bells. Surely Dencausse would have bought in ready-made bell bronze and not gotten involved in mixing his own copper and tin, never mind refining their ores.
     
  17. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, George! :)

    Yes, Mompou comes from a family of bell makers. As I wrote in another thread, 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.

    Mompou started using bell sound in pretty much all his music, including these early works. Regarding bells ringing here in the U.S.; actually, where I live I hear bells all the time. In the downtown area near the river there is a carillon which is among the four largest in the world. It has 72 bells, which were cast in The Netherlands. The largest bell is nicknamed “Big Joe” (named after the founder of the town – his name is Joe Naper), and weighs nearly 6 tons! The bells ring every hour and they have carillon recitals in the evenings during the spring and summertime. I know what you mean by the sound of bells - I remember when I was in visiting my cousin in Germany and at night I heard in the distance a church bell chiming on the hour. It’s a peaceful sound; I also like the sound of a train in the distance.

    Thank you, Riley. Yes, Mompou's pieces are not as easy as they sound. Plus, he must have had large hands because he wrote huge chords and intervals, which I can't reach.

    Ok, thank you for the explanation, but I do think the miners were working on behalf of the bell factory. His grandfather's bell factory did actually make the bells, according to what I've read.
     
  18. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Oh indeed the bell factory made the bells, by melting bronze and casting it, and then doing all sorts of other stuff. That much I assumed. I did not think they got someone else to cast them and then just machined them to their final shape. But that doesn't necessarily mean they would have become involved in making their own bronze, which is an operation which has wider uses, and so is more suited to being a completely separate business which would supply not only bell makers but also sculptors, makers of medals and coins, makers of specialist nuts and bolts etc.

    It seems more natural that the bell makers, coin makers, sculptors, etc, would each buy in, from a metal refinery or smelting works, ingots of ready-to-melt bronze of the correct composition, rather than cook their own. Otherwise it would be like a printer of books getting involved in making paper from pulp, or a bakery getting involved in flour production. Hence my silly ivory analogy.

    But if you have information to the contrary, it would be most interesting to learn more about it.
     
  19. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    There pieces were played to your usual high standard. The composing is very colorful and charming. Where you have a whole volume of these pieces, they'll certainly keep you busy! Thanks for sharing this never-before-heard music with us.

    P.S. I think rainer is right. "Del" would be from not to.

    David
     
  20. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi David,
    Thank you. And yes, there are three books filled with some neat music. Problem is I'm too busy for them to keep me busy.... :)
     

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