The seven pages of See The Welter in score form, with notes by the composer.
Federico Mompou: Música Callada / James Rushford: See the Welter
Performed by James Rushford
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The imagery of musical forms emptied of earthly meaning, of solitude, and of a connection to the divine were irresistible to Federico Mompou. A desire to be alone had shaped Mompou’s early musical direction: as natural shyness ended his ambitions to be piano virtuoso, after studies at the Paris Conservatoire he turned to composition instead. His approach remained introspective – far removed from the overt and public expressions of the avant-garde, both before and after the Second World War – and pursued a line inwards, towards Catalan traditional music, idiosyncratic technique, and a spiritually clarified instinctivism inspired particularly by Erik Satie. The four books of pieces are considered by some to be Mompou’s masterpiece. Música Callada creates a sort of musical negative space, in which presence (of external references) creates lightness, and absence (of formal complexity, of counterpoint, of thematic or harmonic development) creates weight and substance.
Metaphors such as these also lie behind James Rushford’s See the Welter, composed as a companion piece to Música Callada in 2016. In See the Welter, Rushford introduces a concept of ‘musical shadows’. The aim is not a recognizable transcription or recomposition of Mompou’s twenty-eight pieces, but a sort of Proustian ‘sieving’, in which memories and sensations – such as finger pressures, resonances and harmonic rhythm – are projected across a new surface, in new forms, and as new memories. Just as a shadow both intensifies and diffuses the form of the object by which it is cast, so Rushford’s piece transforms and scatters the details of Mompou’s collection while intensifying its essence. Compositionally, the piece is the inverse of Mompou’s: a single block in place of a multitude of fleeting impressions; its long shadow. Expressively, however, See the Welter explores the same territory, if seen through the other side of the glass: resonances and absences, silences within sounds, luminosity and intensity, bodies within spaces.
"a devastatingly beautiful cycle of 28 short pieces marked by concision and delicacy. The influence of Debussy and, especially, Satie is clear, but one can also sense a precursor to the spare materiality in the music of Morton Feldman. Some of the pieces convey a folk-like simplicity, while others feel incantatory. There have only been a handful of recordings featuring all of the pieces, so the addition of this new version by the Australian composer and pianist James Rushford is welcome, and he brings a stunning clarity and precise touch to his spacious readings. But the release offers much more, with a second disc devoted to See the Welter, a 7-page 2016 companion piece Rushford penned, using a concept he calls “musical shadows.”... the emotional resonances are unmistakable."
Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical: October 2020
"Rushford revels in finding minute differentiations of expression within the general climate of calm." -Seth Colter Walls
The New York Times
“James Rushford summarizes Mompou’s emotional paintings with his more radical vision of a hazy interior landscape: a twofold manifestation of the inexpressible that permeates the human condition from modernity onwards, when everything seems to have already been said and written except what cannot meet words, and of which only art knows and guards the secret.” -Esoteros
DIGITAL TRACK LIST
Federico Mompou-Música Callada
- Book I: Angelico (2:19)
- Book I: Lent (1:54)
- Book I: Placide (1:32)
- Book I: Afflitto e penoso (3:13)
- Book I: Quarter note ([M.M.] =54) (2:53)
- Book I: Lento (2:17)
- Book I: Lento (3:04)
- Book I: Semplice (0:49)
- Book I: Lento (3:04)
- Book II: Lento - cantabile (1:36)
- Book II: Allegretto (1:19)
- Book II: Lento (2:06)
- Book II: Tranquilo - très calme (2:17)
- Book II: Severo - sérieux (2:06)
- Book II: Lento - plaintiff (2:21)
- Book II: Calme (2:49)
- Book III: Lento (2:53)
- Book III: Luminoso (1:59)
- Book III: Tranquilo (2:17)
- Book III: Calme (3:39)
- Book III: Lento (2:49)
- Book IV: Molto lento e tranquilo (2:23)
- Book IV: Calme, avec clarté (2:31)
- Book IV: Moderato (2:19)
- Book IV: Quarter Note ([M.M.] =100) (3:00)
- Book IV: Lento (3:21)
- Book IV: Lento molto (3:29)
- Book IV: Lento (4:39)
James Rushford-See the Welter
- Page 1 (11:28)
- Page 2 (11:42)
- Page 3 (10:58)
- Page 4 (12:48)
- Page 5 (12:24)
- Page 6 (8:20)
- Page 7 (11:56)
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer, whose work is drawn from specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. He holds a Doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts.
As a composer, James has been commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Neon (Oslo), Speak Percussion (Melbourne), Ensemble Vortex (Geneva), Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Ensemble Offspring (Sydney), Decibel (Perth), Melbourne International Arts Festival, Norway Ultima Festival (2011), Unsound Festival (New York 2014) and Liquid Architecture (Melbourne).
As a performer, he has performed as a soloist with the Krakow Sinfonietta, Australian Art Orchestra, Michael Pisaro, Eyvind Kang, David Behrman and Jon Rose.
James has collaborative projects with Joe Talia, Golden Fur (with Samuel Dunscombe & Judith Hamann), Ora Clementi (with crys cole), Oren Ambarchi, Klaus Lang, Kassel Jaeger, Anthony Pateras, Will Guthrie, Annea Lockwood, Graham Lambkin, Francis Plagne, Tashi Wada, visual artists Michael Salerno, Rachel Yezbick and Haroon Mirza, and the writer Dennis Cooper.