Mompou Misteriós Brilliant Classics

Federico Mompou (1893-1987)
Misteriós – Transcriptions for Guitar Volume 1
Marco Ramelli (guitar)
rec. 2022, Collegio Rotondi,Goria Minore, Italy
Brilliant Classics 96709 [61]

Ah, the inspiration. That’s the secret. I  don’t know from where it comes, but that’s one of the secrets of art. It’s a form of medium in the spiritual world. I receive the messages, but I don’t know where they come from… they come at unexpected moments. You must learn to wait. It demands great patience. (Federico Mompou)

Federico Mompou is the most famous of the 20th century Catalan composers. He was born in Barcelona in 1893. Mompou studied piano under Pedro Serra before going to Paris to study at the Conservatoire de Paris He pursued further formal piano studies and education in harmony and composition with Marcel Samuel-Rousseau. The combination of extreme shyness, introspection and self-effacement precluded him from a career as a solo pianist. In 1909 he heard Gabriel Fauré perform his Piano Quintet, and this influenced him to focus on composition.

This recording presents transcriptions of Mompou’s piano works for guitar. These are from Volume 1 by James Beneteau with revisions by Marco Ramelli. The music is from a number of different groups and even includes music which Mompou wrote, along with a number of his contemporaries, for inclusion in the piano method of Marguerite Long.

Marco Ramelli, born in Italy, is an artist of diverse interests and capabilities. These include guitarist, composer, researcher, lecturer and artistic director. He has won First Prize in international guitar competitions in Italy, Spain, UK, France, and Serbia. He earned a doctorate in Performing Arts from the University St Andreas and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. His passion for sharing knowledge is expressed in his role as a lecturer at the TU Conservatoire, Ireland and through masterclasses.

The liner notes of this recording are well written, and particularly informative. They endeavour to give insight and understanding to the nature and compositional initiatives of Mompou. These notes explain that his compositional approach was rooted in the trust of intuition and inspiration, channelled through the piano, which he considered fundamental in connecting with the music’s essence. Of particular interest is the acknowledgement by the author of Chandra Candiani, and an expression of gratitude. Her poems, and book Il silenzio è cosa viva have both accompanied and influenced the exploration of Mompou’s music by Marco Ramelli. The influence of Buddhism in her writings, and its subsequent effects on Ramell’s exploration of Mompou’s music, could be extrapolated to suggest that the composer was similarly influenced by the same original source; hence the Misteriós (mysteries) of Mompou’s oeuvre. On the cover of the notes Is the drawing of a bird by Mompou, and on the rear cover is a drawing by his brother, artist Joseph, of L’Ermita (the chapel). This appeared on all Mompou’s published music.

The liner notes acknowledge that in the guitar’s melancholic and evocative timbre, Mompou found an ideal medium to express his contemplative and gentle, poetic world. Unlike percussive instruments, the guitar has poor sustain; the timing between birth and death of a note is very short.

For Mompou the guitar becomes the canvas where sound and silence intertwine, evoking emotions of transporting the listener to archaic places suspended in time’. Accepting this at face value, it is rather surprising that so little for the instrument is among his oeuvre of some 200 short pieces. In reality he only composed two pieces for guitar: Suite Compostella in 1962 at the request of Andres Segovia, and Canción y Danza No 13 (1972). Canción y Dansa No 10 (1953) is usually grouped in his guitar works; however, the piece was originally composed for the piano and Mompou then made a guitar arrangement of this music. Historically, the Canción from Canción y Danza No 6 has been more popular and frequently recorded.

Ramelli makes very specific reference to details about the instrument used in this recording. He expresses ‘heartfelt gratitude’ to the luthier Gabriele Lodi who made this guitar. Named La Macchiata, it is characterized by its extreme light-weight construction. The guitar was bespoke for this recording. The idea behind the guitar explores the concept of fragility and delicacy, transferring these from limitations into ‘a potent tool for guitarists to explore its nuanced subtleties’. ‘Lodi created an instrument of mystical exploration’.

Mompou is recognized as a miniaturist who wrote short, relatively improvisatory music, often described as delicate or intimate. Key influences were French Impressionists Erik Satie and Gabriel Fauré. In his interpretations Marco Ramelli gives special attention to these characteristics. The bespoke instrument by Lodi augments these interpretive endeavours. One gets the impression that this is a highly sensitive instrument and one that is easy to play. Julian Bream expressed antipathy for instruments that ‘dictated to him’ and favoured instruments similar to that of Lodi; ones that were very responsive, easy to play and with a low action. The transcriptions of the music on this programme are well executed, and one could be easily influenced to believe this was music originally written for the guitar

The guitar is very unforgiving of recording imperfections. In this instance there is a constant, low- grade background noise which sounds like the recording was made in a room with active air conditioning.

Zane Turner

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Presto Music
Arkiv Music

Contentsfrom Canciones y Danzas
No 1
Cancion No IX
No V
from Cants màgics
IV Misterios
from Préludes
No V
from Impresiones intimas
No I
Pájaro triste
La barca
from Unpublished Works Collection
Cami de muntanya
El camí del jardí
Dos petits preludis
Oració d’ermita

from Marguerite Long, La Petite Methode de piano
Sur la pointe des pieds.