In Honor of Mompou
"I place complete trust
in the forms of expression I carry within myself. I cannot subordinate
my spontaneity and form of expression …to theories, the need for
which escapes me. (…) I consider music to be pure inspiration."
With these words Frederic Mompou (1893-1987) defined his attitude towards
the creative act. Mompou is a unique figure in the history of Catalan
music (in fact, Vladimir Jenkelevitch went even further in 1969 by asserting
"there is only one Mompou in the world!"). He was an intuitive
composer, an enemy of theories ("first the work, then the theoretical
treatment", he used to say), a lover of brevity and of the essential
("my only aim is to produce works in which nothing is missing,
but which are not too long") and most of the works he wrote were
for piano. He has been compared -always mistakenly- with Erik Satie,
Claude Debussy, Frederic Chopin- even with Anton Webern. But from his
first compositions he clearly showed a completely personal and mature
language, which was to change little over the years (except perhaps
to increase in richness and harmonic complexity). Mompou was a composer
who, faithful to himself, remained on the edge of the fashionable throughout
the long years of his life ("only one thing should be demanded
of a composer: that he is always what he is" he wrote).
There could have been no
better way to start the CD than with a work by Manuel Blancafort (La
Garriga. 1897-1987), who in his early stages wrote music which was strongly
influenced by that of his friend. "Camí del solitari"
("The Path of the Loner") is the first piece of a set of four
which make up the suite "Chemins" ("Paths"), written
between 1920 and 1923 and published by Maurice Senart in Paris in 1928
with a dedication to "friend Frederic Mompou". The "Candenza
in honour of Mompou", written in 1983 by Joan Guinjoan (Riudoms,
1931) presents in little more than three minutes some of the identifying
characteristics of this composer: "clusters" played with the
palms of the hands, "glissandi" over black and white notes,
and passages which are random or left to the choice -and inspiration-
of the performer. Joan Comellas (El Masnou, 1913-2000) was an artist
with many faces, who in the musical field considered Mompou as a "spiritural
father" (as Comellas himself called him). "Homage to Frederick
Mompou" belongs to the "Suites d'homenatges" ("Suite
of Homages") op. 4, which also significantly includes pieces dedicated
to Satie, Debussy, Ravel and Falla.
My "Impromptu" (2002) is based on the opening motif of piece number XXV of the "Musica Callada" ("Silent Music"), the work for which Mompou is best known (the motif is quoted literally in the penultimate bar of the Impromptu). Antoni Besses (Barcelona, 1945), an excellent performer of the music of Mompou, wrote "Cançoneta I dansa" in 1988 for the City of Berga Piano Competition. The work, subtitled "Homenatge a Frederic Mompou" ("Homage to Mompou"), follows the model of the "Cançons I Dansa", only in more modest proportions (the work lasts little more than a minute). "A la manière de Frederic Mompou" ("In the style of Frederic Mompou") by Josep Soler (Vilafranca del Penedès, 1935) is a piece from the year 1983 included in his "Album per a piano". It belongs to the period prior to the systematization of the Tristan chord and can be considered a study in sonorities very close to the sound world of the composer evoked, with a very short interlude of unexpected violence. "De Mompou a mon pou" ("From Mompou to my well") (2002) by Miquel Roger (Barcelona, 1954) follows the classical form of the theme an variations. The theme is the folk song "Que li darem al noi de la mare?" which also inspired Mompou in his "Cançó" of the famous "Cançó I dansa nº 3". Xavier Montsalvatge (Girona, 1912-Barcelona 2002) wrote "Si, a Mompou" in 1983 and included it in a set of "Three pieces for the left hand". The title plays with the double meaning of "si": "yes", to affirm support to Mompou's music -a composer with whom Montsalvatge shared aesthetic ideals- and the musical note "si" (B), repeated up to forty two times during the piece. "In Mompouriam" (2002) by Antoni-Olaf Sabater (Barcelona, 1959) is a work of solemn character, in the tradition of the elegiac "tombeaux" in memory of deceased composers.
"A Frederic" (1997) by Ramon Humet (Barcelona, 1968) is a suite of nine pieces inspired by the nine which make up the first book of Mompou's "Musica Callada". The composer uses the same material for each of his pieces to develop a kind of paraphrase of the original. Victor Estapé (Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, 1962) is an expert on the piano works of Mompou, and uses, in his "Cri et cloche. Un homage à F. Mompou" ("Cry and Bell") (2002) two characteristic elements of the composer he pays tribute to: the "cries" of the children playing in the street (which Mompou evoked in his "Escenes d'infants"), and the bells, present in the harmonic language of the composer from his early works onwards. "Homenatge" by Joan Albert Amargós (Barcelona, 1950) was written in 1983 for an album of pieces which a group of Catalan composers collected together as a present to Mompou to commemorate his 90th birthday. The CD ends with a composition for cello and piano by Benet Casablancas (Sabadell, 1956) entitled "Cant per a F. Mompou" (Remembrança)". Written in 1993 celebrate the centenary of the composer's birth, this piece, of aphoristic dimensions, presents a rise in pitch of the cello, from its lowest register to its highest, accompanied with impressionist chords on the piano.