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Mompou - Variations on a theme by Chopin

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

  1. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I’m happy and excited to share and present this set of music that combines my love for two of my favorite composers, Chopin and Mompou. This might sound weird, but I felt like I was having a party with myself each time I came to the end of learning the individual pieces and ready to move on to the next one. I’ve had so much fun with this music! Getting to the end of the set was so satisfying!! I think Mompou is a genius – Chopin’s music is, of course perfect, and then Mompou adds his own unique harmonies and…well… it’s just the most wonderful thing. :D :!:

    Here is a little information from some album text: It was the great cellist and composer Gaspar Cassado who, in 1938, suggested to Mompou the possibility of collaborating on a joint work, variations for cello and piano based on the Prelude Op. 28 No. 7 in A major by Chopin. The project was abandoned, but by this time Mompou had composed four variations which appeared with the curious title 'Three Variations' for piano. In 1957 a commission from the London Royal Ballet was the occasion for finishing the work. The planned ballet came to nothing, but it led to one of the composer's most ambitious creations.

    Some of the variations are not as easy as they sound; a few were actually VERY hard to play. I just hope I did the set justice. I worked hard and took my time, instead of recording too soon like I’ve done in the past. :oops: Also, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to submit them as individual pieces or all together in one file, so I did both. That way someone can listen to whichever variation they are interested in, or just click the ‘play’ button, sit back, and listen to the whole set without stopping, which is 24 minutes and 19 seconds.

    And here are just some personal observations and thoughts on some of the pieces, really for my own sake, in case I forget later….

    Theme. Chopin’s Prelude in A major Op. 28, No. 7 Andantino
    Variation 1. Tranquillo e molto amabile (A major) – mostly the same, but with a little bit of Mompou’s voice
    Variation 2. Gracioso (A major) - A happy little piece with lots of Mompou!
    Variation 3. Lento (D major, for the left hand) – Very slow, beautiful, warm
    Variation 4. Espressivo (F major) – Nice, lovely
    Variation 5. Tempo di Mazurka (A major) – Mazurka time!
    Variation 6. Recitativo (G minor) - Very different - sounds like Scriabin
    Variation 7. Allegro leggiero (A major) - Hard to play, took a long time to learn
    Variation 8. Andante dolce e espressivo (F major) - Pretty
    Variation 9. Valse (A major) - Love this Waltz – great harmonies, interesting middle part too!
    Variation 10. Évocation. Cantabile molto espressivo - Very sad and gorgeous! Boy was I surprised when I got to the middle part! Very cool!
    Variation 11. Lento dolce e legato (F sharp minor) - Neat – love the harmonies – great drama!
    Variation 12. Galope y Epílogo (A major) - Even more drama – big time! Very hard to play up to speed!! But love the structure of the piece - especially that delicious middle part!! But then when you get to the final epilogue…the only word to describe it is “magical”. Leaves me with goosebumps every time!

    Okay, sorry for being so long-winded, but I haven't submitted anything new in awhile. Comments welcomed and appreciated! :)

    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, Theme (A major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 1: Tranquillo e molto amabile (A major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 2: Gracioso (A major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 3: Lento (D major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 4: Espressivo (F major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 5: Tempo di Mazurka (A major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 6: Recitativo (G minor)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 7: Allegro leggiero (A major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 8: Andante dolce e espressivo (F major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 9: Valse (A major)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 10: Évocation. Cantabile molto espressivo
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 11: Lento dolce e legato (F sharp minor)
    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, 12: Galope y Epílogo (A major)

    Mompou - Variations on a Theme by Chopin, Complete Set
     
  2. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    I had a listen to the first few pieces, it is amazing to see how creative Mompou was in his variations, expanding on the notes written in place by Chopin. I'm going to bed now but will come back to it tomorrow :)

    Can't wait to hear the complete set,

    Riley
     
  3. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    Monica,
    This is one of the most enjoyable posts that I have had the pleasure of listening to since joining PS! The combination of the simple and pure beauty of the Chopin prelude, and the imaginative inventiveness of Mompou, together with your sensitivity and musicianship combined to make this a most musical delight for me. I hope to program this beautiful set some day. Thank you very much!


    Ps: I listened to the continuous set. Which variation had the excerpt from the B section of Chopin's Fantasy-Impromptu?
     
  4. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    That would be the "Boy was I surprised when ..." one: No 10, Evocation.
    Not at all. It's always nice to get a bit of background.

    This set is just lovely, and you certainly do it justice. Quite amazing. You said some places are "not as easy as they sound", but that's just it: Making something sound easier than it is is one of the signs of a good player.

    One thing I particularly like is how one can really hear the bells, not just in the obvious places (like the repeated LH ostinato DONGs which in No 8 come once per bar in several groups of 4 bars), but also in other places here and there where one gets a clear sensation of their rich characteristic harmonies ringing out, even in isolated chords.

    There are a few bars in No 9 a couple of dozen bars from the end (around 13:48 in the complete recording) which distinctly remind me of bits of the tune of Rock-a-bye Baby.

    Can you decipher the following cryptic comment? I may be mistaken, but I suspect that a certain variation (I'm not telling you which one, that's part of the riddle) wasn't quite sinister enough. :?

    The following criticisms are just minor niggles and they don't really detract much from the bigger picture.

    No 4, bar 7. The Rit which is marked could do with being more pronounced and beginning earlier. The first two chords seem to rush instead of hold back.

    No 5. Most of the dotted patterns are sounding a bit like triplets.

    No 6. I know that you often memorize pieces you record. When one does that, then occasionally some rhythmic patterns which are similar but slightly different on paper tend to get made the same in one's head. Such is the case in the Lento 3/4 section here. There are some figures of dotted 8th plus 16th which are prefixed with a 16th (in bar 5 of this section the C and in bar 7 the F#, both in RH). But the corresponding prefixes in bars 2 and 3 (both RH C) and in bars 1 and 4 (LH G and Ab, respectively) are 8ths, but you play these as 16ths too.

    No 7. There is a bit too much of a feeling of playing one bar at a time, and thus losing sight of the longer line.

    No 12. I feel the middle section (marked Meno mosso, piu espressivo, molto cantabile) is too fast, with not enough tempo contrast relative to the main Galope sections which surround it.

    The timing is a little off in the final few bars of the closing Lento.
     
  5. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    A masterpiece and a great fusing of styles which you played really well. Thanks a lot for recording this.
     
  6. OpenGoldberg

    OpenGoldberg New Member

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    What fun! I'll have to get the score for this for my wife - she absolutely loves Variations as a form, and this is a great evolution/devolution of the Chopin. Thanks for introducing.
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for listening, Riley, Eddy, Rainer, Jonathan, and Robert. I'm glad you all like this music and thank you so much for the nice words regarding my playing!! :D

    @Rainer - I don't agree with a lot of what you wrote, but I know you are offering your insights as a way for me to check myself against the score and note any corrections I need to address. That's fine - I needed a lot of that sort of thing when it came to my Chopin mazurkas. This time, I can only say that I modeled my interpretation solely on Mompou's playing himself! This whole set played by Mompou is on Youtube, and I listened to it probably five or six times to get an understanding of the music. I'm pretty happy with my recording here, so I won't be making any re-recording, but thank you for taking the time to offer your critiques. :)
     
  8. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is excellent, and the variations are quite ingenious. In a few of the earlier variations I thought the piano was a little bright for the music, but in no.10 your playing and sound really is beautiful! Congratulations on a very nicely put-together variation set - something to be proud of.
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you so much, Andrew! :)

    And just another observation.....Rainer is right about there being plenty of bell sounds in this music. A lot of it comes from the 9th intervals. Mompou uses 9ths so much - I really believe that the span between my thumb and pinky has increased from playing a lot of Mompou. The only bad thing about that is that I used to be able to plunk down octaves without thinking or even looking at the keys; my hands were just so used to the feel of that stretch. Now it's different. I seem to naturally want to press down on 9ths instead of octaves and so I'm having trouble with octaves. Weird.....
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes, that must be one of the best amateur recordings ever on PS, and certainly your best to date. Gorgeous playing with good dynamics and judicious pedal, and great sound quality. It sounds like there is some tricky writing and awkward large stretches which you handle very well. Congratulations on a great achievement !
     
  11. robert

    robert New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Very good playing and interesting to listen how Mompou's flavour interacts with Chopin's prelude. Couldn't help tweeting about it ;).
     
  12. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Monica, is that really you? Of course it is and such a good recordong of such and enjoyable piece. I must say I became worried (with Mompou, not you) when the fisrt variation came along, but after that, it was all uphill.

    Of course I did not follow it with score, so I cannot pick up dottard notes that sound like triplets and all that.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Wow! Thank you!! :D I'm a little speechless. thank you.

    I think I read somewhere that Mompou had large hands and yes he often writes huge chords. I was amazed yet chagrined upon listening to him play one of these variations that has such a chord and it sounds like he just easily pressed down on it. I tried all kinds of ways to do it myself, like standing on my head....haha...no not really....but it's impossible.


    Thank you, Robert! Tweet tweet.... :)

    Thank you, Richard. Yes, it's just little ol' me. I really love this set and took my time recording. Instead of being satisfied by a recording of one of these variations, if I thought that something sounded not so great, I deleted the entire recording and made a second recording several days later.
     
  14. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    Hi, Monica!

    I hadn't heard this set before (though I knew it existed...).
    So I can't say much. It was enjoyable though! Mainly that variation around 5 minutes.

    Right in the beginning, it seems that some of the first variations would benefit from a more fluent performance, but then I listened to this part again and couldn't find the exact passage, so I'm not sure...
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hehe Luis, you don't seem sure what your name is.
    Ah well, as long as you are sure of your gender :D
     
  16. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    I had some more time to listen to these pieces. I really like your playing here. I can tell you have practiced these a lot. I agree the last one sounds challenging, particularly at the tempo you are playing it at. I agree the recitative sounds like Scriabin, or even Godowsky. This is a big set and from hearing it, the hard work has paid off, congratulations :) As I look at the other posts, I only wish I was the first to say it :wink: :p
     
  17. luissarro

    luissarro New Member

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    hehe

    I've changed my name to Luís Sarro, and now this is sure! I think it's much better. I've changed my YT channel also... I haven't changed my website because I'm lazy. :roll:
     
  18. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Monica,

    Listening to these Mompou variations was a real treat. (Yes, I listened to the mazurka too! :)) My favorite was the second Lento in F#m near the end. The composing is most colorful and imaginative, as is your performance. You put it across to the listener most effectively. This is one of your finest offerings ever. Congratulations on this very significant recording!

    David
     
  19. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    What do you bet the name he was given at the font is Luis Felipe Sarro?
     
  20. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for listening, Luis, Riley, and David. And for the kind words too! :)

    I was just thinking that if only Granados did a similar thing with a Chopin piece. Then I really would be super-excited! But actually, although I LOVE Granados and his music, I think nobody could top Mompou's variations because his harmonies are so unique.

    It just occurred to me that I can take one of the pieces in this set and place it in two separate pages on the main site. The theme is of course Chopin's original prelude so I get to put my recording under Mompou and Chopin.
    It's a 2 for 1 special! 8)
     

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