After Música Callada Steffen Schleiermacher is now presenting Fêtes lointaines, his second release featuring one-of-a-kind piano compositions by Federico Mompou. Along with the title cycle, this CD includes other miniatures from the period between 1914 and 1921. The melancholy opposing the dramatic mode and pervading Mompou’s entire oeuvre is already in evidence in these early works. Once again Schleiermacher succeeds in endowing the few tones in these short pieces with a mysterious radiance lending them an absolutely heavenly appeal.
However, the titles of the short cycles very much refer to the real world. “Suburbis” depicts street scenes in Barcelona, a guitarist endeavors to get a waltz going, gypsies form the topic of conversation, suddenly an old gray mare appears, and then a beggar concludes the series with hurdy-gurdy distress signals. The festivities in Fêtes lointaines, hints, mere impressions, are heard in the distance – which is why the instructions at the end read: “To be played like an echo.”
Cants mágics formed the first printed pieces penned by Mompou. Tones recalling bells, from the big sound of huge bells to the filigree tinkling of little bells, mark this musical event. Perhaps a residual trace of Mompou’s origins? He was the son of a bell founder! His enthusiasm for Chopin is perhaps most clearly reflected in the Trois variations but surely not so much in the theme, for it is of absolutely disarming simplicity. The concluding nocturne in particular develops sumptuous harmonies before the work drifts away into infinity – an exit strategy typical of Mompou.
And so too in Charmes: Mompou refuses to engage in any sort of musical development. The tones are how and what they are; now they are simply here, and then at sometime or other they are no longer with us. In this respect Mompou resembles Erik Satie, whom he had the opportunity to meet in Paris and learned to respect. The “Manfred Bürki” Steinway D grand piano presents its very transparent color in contact with Steffen Schleiermacher’s fine-touch fingertips – an audio feast without loud ostentation for attentive listeners!