Catalan composer Federico Mompou is one of classical music’s best-kept secrets – if you’ve not sampled his restrained, elegant piano output, you should snap up Arcadi Volodos’s brilliant Sony anthology. Guitarist Maria Camahort presents us with three short Mompou pieces, in arrangements which expand the originals’ scope without diluting their essence. The Catalan popular songs which Mompou transcribed are now sung. There’s some loss of intimacy but you imagine that the composer would have approved.
Camahort’s disc emphasises the debt owed by Spanish classical composers to traditional music. Familiar names include Enrique Granados, whose Danza Orientalsounds gorgeous as a duet for violin and guitar, and Falla, represented by a touching guitar solo dedicated to Debussy’s memory. Camahort’s ensemble includes cello, percussion and two vocalists, deployed with notable restraint. Especially beguiling are guitar, violin and soprano transcriptions of a pair of songs by one Eduard Toldrá, sweetly sung by soprano Laura Ruhí-Vidal. Two movements from Feliu Gasull’s Suite for Cello and Guitar were new to me, along with a striking Lullaby in an idiomatic quintet arrangement. Camahort’s own Lorca settings have a stark, improvisatory feel, both brilliantly sung by Violeta Garcia. This is a seriously impressive CD, far more probing and affecting than the colourful sleeve art might suggest. Perfect holiday listening, in other words. The production values are impeccable, with Camahort’s notes a model of scholarly accessibility.