Nin, J (The) Piano Music
With this endlessly fascinating disc the indefatigable Martin Jones adds the complete piano music of Joaquín Nin y Castellanos (1879-1949) to his towering Spanish discography. As Calum MacDonald tells us in his excellent accompanying essay, Nin wrote in a militantly Spanish style despite his sojourn in Paris and his birth and death in Cuba. Throughout all these works, familiar ideas gleaned from other Spanish composers, most notably Falla, are given with a witty and acidic twist. Anyone looking for picture-postcard Spain will be disappointed, while others with keener ears will be astonished by Nin’s endlessly surprising idiom, his “tangily Spanish” (MacDonald) vibrancy and colour.
Mensaje a Claude Debussy remembers a composer who prompted Falla to exclaim “I wish I could write something as Spanish as that” (he was referring to La soirée dans Grenade). Cadena de valses is characteristically more sour than sweet and Canto de cuna para los huerfános de España is a moving reminder of those made orphans by the civil war. Nin’s Variations incorporate an affectionate mockery of convention and, finally, in the Danza murciana, dark colouring gives way to a seductive, syncopated charm. All this music, much of it of an intricate virtuosity, is played with unflagging brio and complete poetic empathy by Martin Jones, whose missionary zeal of behalf of Spanish music deserves every honour Spain can offer. A crowning touch is provided by Nimbus’s excellent sound.