Federico Mompou (1893-1987) is often referred to as a “minimalist.” But there are different stripes of minimalism. Mompou’s is not of the rarified La Monte Young or hyperactive Philip Glass varieties, but rather in the Erik Satie tradition. By employing the simplest and most economical means, the composer increases his music’s expressiveness. The 28 brief movements that make up the four books of Mompou’s Música Callada (Silent Music) are almost all slow in tempo and mostly inhabit the softer end of the dynamic spectrum. Yet there’s a remarkable emotional range, as the mood shifts from sunlit optimism to bleak despair, from calm to worried agitation. The harmonic syntax is modal and impressionist, and clearly indebted to Debussy and Ravel.
Jenny Lin is a sensitive and subtle interpreter, fully attuned to the spirit of these small but absorbing pieces. The recording, originating from the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center, is outstanding. Producer/engineer Silas Brown provides an immediate piano sound, with an ideal blend of hammer- on-string and instrumental mass. Those occasional moments when the lowest octaves of the Steinway Model D are in play are quite impressive.