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Federico Mompou

The primary masterwork of Catalan composer Federico Mompou's late years is Música Callada (Silent Music), a piano suite consisting of 28 pieces arranged in four books of 9, 7, 5, and 9 movements. Most of the pieces occupy just two or three lightly scored pages of music, and the dynamic level only rarely exceeds mezzo piano. Música Callada sometimes breaks into brief, wistful dance phrases; otherwise the music is best characterized as containing only the barest indication of a pulse. Although the work is extremely economical in its means, it is not easy to play. On the contrary, Música Callada represents a test of concentration and restraint over extended periods.

About Música Callada, Mompou once wrote, "its mission is to reach the profound depths of our soul and the hidden domains of the vital force our spirits. This music is silent ('callada') as if heard from within." Música Callada represents a forward development from the work of Satie, yet was written in an era during which the so-called "International Serial style" was all the rage in Europe. However, Mompou was no shrinking violet in terms of modernity; Música Callada often contains bitter polytonal combinations and textures so scantily applied that the music often seems to float in the air. Nonetheless, the work attracted little attention upon its first publication, and was only appreciated beginning in the 1990s.

Unlike most art music of the 1960s, Música Callada is peaceful in tone and makes an excellent choice for the purpose of relaxation. Those who enjoy challenging listening will also find interest in Mompou's use of additional color in the form of biting dissonances.