From Mompou I learned to listen to the connection between two sounds, something very important to perform a good legato on the piano. He once wrote in his Tretease of interpretation "L'estudi del sentiment": 


Indeed, anyone who holds knowledge of the mechanism of the keyboard knows that once the hammer has hit the string, it retracts instantly. The finger will not get anything else, or the pressure of the arm, or that ridiculous rotary movement of the fingertip.  However, I can say, against the opinion of many, that there is a possibility of elongating, of clarifying this tone, but by a natural process, which is: a note does not exactly give its greatest intensity or beauty when it is first played.  Moreover, it does not achieve its highest vibration at the initial hit of the hammer on the string.  It happens that from this initial vibration mixed with the resonance, it starts to walk a course that ascends, reaches a peak and descends. These are nuances that one needs to grasp.  In this small space, between two sounds, lies the secret of sound1.

Comparing the first recording of this section to the second one, I can notice that I grasped the state of calmness that is needed to play his music. Yet, I was still curious about increasing my creativity in passages that are reiterative in order to keep the focus of the listener. Human beings are attracted to unexpectancy, not predictability. 
For this reason I experimented on different ways to deliver the quavers in "Angelico". 

The following video shows how I gave notes with a higher pitch more importance by elongating them. 

The following complete rendition of Angelico shows how I combine rhythm flexibility with dislocations, which were completely inexistent in my first recording. The result is an improvement in the layering of the piece. 


The second movement of the collection, "Lento" plays with a rhythmic element which defines the whole piece: dotted quavers and semiquavers. This was my first approach to it in June 2019:

When I listen to it, after having done my research, I get the feeling that I did not make a connection between music and silence. When there were rests, the music stopped and its tension vanished. What I mean by that is that there was no overall continuity. For Mompou, silence was also music and vice versa. 


Another aspect that could be improved on my recording was the variation of the execution of the characteristic semiquaver of this movement. I took as an example Mompou's recording of the "Profond-Lent" from Cants Màgics. There he had two different versions. Firstly, the fast note tended to the following one. Secondly, the fast note tended to hold the music back. 

Following is the video of a whole rendition of Lento from Cants Màgics where I try to apply the the above-mentioned techniques to my taste.


After having analyzed Mompou's recording of Cants Màgics I am going to apply my findings into my own practice.

The pieces I chose to conduct the aforementioned experiments on are the first three numbers from the first book of Música Callada, all of them composed in 1959: "Angelico", "lent", and "placide". Música Callada was considered by Mompou himself as his major contribution to music. Each number of the collection is no longer than two minutes and best summarizes his idea of simplicity and "return" in music. Música Callada was named after Mompou became interested in the poems of Saint John of the Cross2 . For this reason, Música Callada intends to convey this mysticism. 

My Beloved is the mountains,

The solitary wooded valleys

The strange islands, 

The roaring torrents,

The whisper of the amorous gales;

The tranquil night 

At the approaches of the dawn,

The silent music3,  

The murmuring solitude,

The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

Personal experience

When I first approached Música Callada on the piano I was just a child. I only had the reference of the score to interpret it. Actually, it did not sound as interesting to me as the compositions of Mozart and Beethoven did. All in all, neither did I understand it nor enjoyed it. Eventually, I put it aside until two years ago. 

What sparked my interest in the music of Mompou as a grown-up were both my exposure to different styles of music during my musical education and the recordings of  Volodos interpreting his compositions. 

I. Angelico


In June 2019 I recorded for myself Angelico and Lento. Listening back to it I had the feeling that I missed some kind of magic in my playing. To me, it seemed obvious that there was something more than just notes and rhythm. Here is the recording: 

After this, I embarqued on a litterature research to find out more about his life and oeuvre. Little did it take me to find out that he had left a full recording of his production, freely available on the Internet. I noticed in his playing some kind of uniqueness in a positive way that, despite being unpolished, kept my attention from beginning to end. I wanted to learn this ability. 

The full recording was so extensive that I did not know how to find the answer to my question. That is why I decided to focus on one piece or group of pieces and analyze both its score and recording to figure out where his uniqueness laid. I chose Cants Màgics and the results of my study can be seen in Chapter 2 of this research. 


More recently,  I made another recording of "Angelico" applying the techniques I extracted from the recording of Cants Màgics. The result immediately improved. I played it with more freedom rhythmically-wise and, as a consequence, it sounded more organic. 

In this other extract the quavers lead to the longer notes, which are not the highest in pitch.

Including arpeggiation in this piece was not something that I contemplated before studying Mompou's recordings. After trying this practice I realized that my music sounded less vertical and therefore, more lyrical. 

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