Music from the 2nd Republic

The Ricard Lamote de Grignon's Preludis a l'amic absent (1935) is an extraordinary work and a surprising experiment in the eminently conservative musical world of the 1930s in Barcelona (excluding the Robert Gerhard´s musical "scandals"). The originality of the work is that every prelude uses exclusively a seven note scale so that the other five notes of the chromatic scale do not appear in the piece. In the first prelude the tones are: C-D flat-E flat-A flat-G-A sharp and B; in the second prelude: C flat-D-E sharp-F sharp-G-A-B flat; and in the third one: C sharp-D-E flat-F sharp-G-A flat-B. Lamote de Grignon succeeds in the technical challenge of writing a piece of music only using seven of the twelve possible tones. The listener do not perceive the limitation asserted by the composer, but on the contrary, he perceives a very rich music, nearly symphonic (the author would subsequently write and orchestra version) that sometimes remember the music of Claude Debussy (especially the third prelude). The absent friend, found in the title, was the Generalitat Culture Councillor, imprisoned in October 1934.

The other Lamote de Grignon works on this CD are not so sophisticated: the Waltz was finished the 9th March 1936 and one can perceive a Viennese-like atmosphere similar to Ravel´s Valses nobles et sentimentales; the composer wrote the Allegretto while imprisoned after the Spanish Civil War (curiously this placid miniature does not reflect the difficulties of the composer, whose life was then in danger -the composer was finally let out of prison but he could not have any public post and his scores were forbidden); the impressionist Convent dels peixos (maybe written after the War) is an enigmatic work -the title seems to refer to a fish bowl. The version heard on this CD follows the original manuscript, being not exactly the same as the one published by Clivis in 1999.

The Joaquim Zamacóis' Aiguaforts have curiously not aroused much interest among pianists, though they are five charming pieces similar to the works of Enrique Granados (even, if I can say so, with a superior technical efficiency: Granados music is more the result of an extraordinary intuition that the result of a composer's training). The Zamacóis' musical work is practically unknown, maybe discredited by his books of theory -of obligatory use in the conservatories during a long period of time- that made the author a well-known personality among students. The Aiguaforts dedicated to the great pianist from Cadiz José Cubiles were written in 1939. They start with Himne elegiac with a constant oscillation between F-sharp major and F-sharp minor only solved in the last measure. The second piece, Bequeriana, is the most harmonically distinguished, remembering the Nocturnes of Gabriel Fauré and to some works of Robert Schumann. The following Sardana is a brilliant "concert sardana", it has an undefeated strength and it is the most remarkable piece in the suite. Ante una invocación pagana offers an appropriate contrast: a mysterious and dissonant piece of music (the principal motive is an interval of a second) that reminds Mompou's Cants màgics. Finally, the Capricho shows again elements from the Spanish folklore, in a rhapsodic work that brilliantly finishes the suite.

Joaquim Serra only wrote two piano works. The Tres peces breus are from 1932. The first two pieces, the charming Cançó de Bressol (lullaby) and the Paisatge (landscape) are influenced by the music world of Frederic Mompou, while the third one, Pastor enamorat (The shepherd in love) introduces more elements of Catalan folklore. The other work of Joquim Serra, Dansa (Dance), was finished in 1931 and in the manuscript one can read some instructions for a possible choreography. It is and extraordinary piano work, of modal outlines, that makes us regret that this excellent composer did not write more music for piano.

Jordi Masó

Essay for the booklet of the CD "Música de la 2ª República"(Anacrusi, AC017)