Ricard Lamote de Grignon: Piano works (Volume 2)

Born in Barcelona in 1899, Ricard Lamote de Grignon studied at the Lyceum Conservatory, the Marshall Academy and also with his father, the conductor and composor Joan Lamote de Grignon. He was a cellist in the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and in the Lyceum Theatre Orchestra, and, from 1932, assistant conductor of the Barcelona Town Band. In 1923, he made his debut as a composer with his piano suite Migajas (Scraps), which was followed by an extensive output of chamber and orchestral works (tone poems, ballets, operas…). However, this brilliant and promising career was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and its difficult aftermath, when he had to exile himself to Valencia in 1942. On his return to Barcelona in 1947, he received a large number of awards and honours for his work and in 1957 he was appointed assistant conductor of the Barcelona Municipal Orchestra (the conductor was Eduard Toldrà). He died in Barcelona in 1962.

If, in the first volume of the complete piano works (Anacrusi AC 046), we have already commented that the most notable feature of the work of Ricard Lamote Grignon was his eclecticism, the present volume serves to confirm and provide further evidence of the enormous stylistic diversity of this composer's creative output. The piece which opens the disc, "Horai (Japanese Ballad)", is close to the harmonic language of Claude Debussy, of whom Lamote Grignon also reminds us through the use of orientalism, which was very much in vogue in the early decades of the 20th century, and of which the great French composer made use in some of his works. "Horai" appears to be a tribute to Chopin and his four masterly "Ballades", as can be seen in the use of the 6/8 time signature (present in Chopin's four gems), the ternary form (the central section being the most animated, although the piece by Lamote Grignon does not have the usual brilliant coda of Chopin's ballades), and the narrative character of the music (in spite of the absence of any extramusical programme). If Debussy and Chopin are the most perceptible influences in "Horai", the three pieces which go to make up "Ofrenda" ("Offering") could not be more different in style. Subtitled "Three Spanish dances", the points of reference in this case are to be found in the music, rooted in Anadaluz folk music, of Manuel de Falla or Isaac Albeniz (tribute being specifically paid to the latter in the second of these pieces). Written in 1942 and also orchestrated , "Ofrenda" gives a display of some of the folk rhythms of Andalucia (fandango, zapateado, farruca..) and pays tribute to the cante jondo, with some very effectively and brilliantly piano writing. But if the differences between "Horai" and "Ofrenda" may unsettle the listener, even more surprising is the contrast with the third piece on the present disc: the "Sonatina". It is not known when this was written, but the "Sonatina" was probably originally an exercise in composition which the young Ricard Lamote de Grignon composed under the stern gaze of his father Joan Lamote de Grignon, as can be deduced by the academicism which permeates the entire piece. The first movement recalls the harpsichord sonatas of Scarlatti or Padre Soler. The second, a two-part sarabande similar to the suites for keyboard of J.S. Bach, and the third movement takes the form of an exacting two-part fugue. This "Sonatine", in spite of its apparent insignificance, must have been a work which Ricard Lamote Grignon liked sufficiently to perform in the legendary - and only - concert of the CIC group (Compositors Independents de Catalunya - Independent Catalan Composers), which took place on 25th June 1931.

The other works on this recording were written by Lamote de Grignon for teaching purposes, and are bound to be the piano pieces of his catalogue to have been most frequently performed, having formed part of the syllabuses for first courses for piano in conservatories for many years. We do not know the date of composition of the descriptive "Tres apuntes montañeses" ("Three mountain sketches"), a triptych not far removed from the style of Manuel Blancafort. The twelve extremely short "Migajas" ("Crumbles") of 1923, in spite of their apparent modesty, are important in being among the first works the composer wrote. "Alborada" ("Dawn") was written in 1940 and presents 12 pieces of increasing difficulty, following the model of the famous "Album for the young" by Robert Schumann (to whom Lamote Grignon pays direct tribute in piece nº 11, with figurations identical to piece nº 14 of Schumann's album). Finally, the short "Epiphany" for piano for four hands was written in 1952 and in some sources appears with the subtitle "in the garden of the kings".

Jordi Masó
May 2006
(Translation: Paul Jutsum)

Essay for the booklet of the CD ""Ricard Lamote de Grignon: L´obra per a piano (Volum 2) (Anacrusi AC058)