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Francisco Mignone

Piano Music

Release Date 2007

Catalogue No. LNT124

Music by:

Francisco Mignone

Performed by:

Clélia Iruzun (piano)

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Short pieces, light moods. Iruzun distributes the Brazilian composer's confections with effervescent profusion. Funky the Cança do Botocudo; sad the waltzes.


Gradually they are coming in from the margins, the composers from southern Europe, South America and further afield. We hear traditional music, we travel, our ears open, and we find the likes of Clélia Iruzun who not only knew her late Brazilian compatriot Francisco Mignone but is the dedicatee of several pieces.

Mignone's mark on the wider world, such as it is, comes from orchestral works, but the piano music here is a revelation. Mellower in harmony than his contemporary Heitor Villa-Lobos, he integrates home-grown elements into a mainstream Parisian language with a deftness and variety of texture that recall Albéniz. Genres range from numerous kinds of valse to a two-movement Sonatina with sophisticated developments of vernacular materials.

There are preludes of Chopinesque length and poetry, but individual ways of using pounding chords and dance rhythms. A set of Transcendental Studies evokes not so much Liszt as the Études of Debussy: you can hear which techniques they work on, but the idea is to poeticise them rather than push them to superhuman extremes. All this is confidently encompassed by Iruzun with terrific energy and verve, in honest unadorned sound like a piano in a room rather than a producer's plaything.


Francisco Mignone's fertile imagination and ease of composition are profusely reflected in his work for piano, which now deserves from pianist Clélia Iruzun a collection covering all the different periods and styles of the composer's career.

Mignone's piano (1897-1986), popularized especially with the Corner Waltzes composed between 1938 and 1943, has been very well appreciated on record thanks to Maria Josephina, his widow and great interpreter. Since the 1970s, she has been releasing a series of recordings aimed mainly at the Waltz series (also the Valsas-choro and the Brazilian Waltzes ), children's inspiration music or for children and small single pieces, in addition to music for two pianos. , which he recorded with the creator himself.

Clélia Iruzun also lived with Mignone and drank from the source of his inspiration and teachings. The CD she is releasing on the English label Lorelt/Lontano Records includes the Five pieces for piano dedicated to her by Mignone in 1976.

The Brazilian pianist based in London is an artist with ample resources and fine sensibility. The choice of the album's repertoire clearly obeys the intention of covering, for an international audience, the different corners of the pianistic art of the one who was perhaps the most intimate Brazilian composer with the keyboard, on which he played (like his very long hands) and he improvised with legendary ease.

The Sonatas were also left out. But the novelty in relation to Maria Josephina's records is that we have here several pieces that escape the repertoire more focused on the urban-popular estrus of the Waltzes – although these are also present, with two from each of the three series.

In her masterly technical and expressive domain, Clélia approaches the Waltzes with a more innocent and limpid art than Maria Josephina, whose interpretations are breathtakingly romantic and involving. The composer's widow demonstrates, in her recorded versions of the Waltzes, a taste for free rubato, the oscillations of time, the imaginative agogic and the sense of adventure and risk that result in an instrumental and musical gesture of great sensuality and seduction.

See, for example, how she gives Valsa-choro nº 11, in her magnificent 1976 recording transferred to CD in 1997, a fascinating atmosphere of mystery, her eyes wide with amazement, in the pained nostalgia of a music box forgotten in a corner. of the House. In the same piece, Iruzun seems more direct, although nothing owes anything to the poetry of the score.

In the six Waltzes recorded by her now with perfect idiom, whether melancholic, brejeiras or rhythmic, the comparison always leads to the same sense of greater freedom and imagination in Maria Josephina, who, however, is not always so master of textual clarity.

What Clélia Iruzun offers above all on her splendid album – which will be released with a recital at the Sala Baden Powell in Rio de Janeiro on August 2nd – is the broader look towards other forms in Mignone's creation for piano.

On the one hand, we have some of his pieces in the Africanized rhythmic register: the famous Congada (1921) extracted from the opera O Contratador de Diamonds , the irresistible Dança do botocudo of 1941, with its rhythmic not deprived of harmonic depth, the syncopated  1931 Catheter ...

The very Brazilian twist of 'Allegro com umore' by Sonatina nº 4 from 1949 is also magnificently captured by Clélia Iruzun, with a full sound and a frank but nuanced projection.

Interest and curiosity are increased by the three series of pieces gathered on the disc, all, as far as I know, with no recordings available in the last few glosses or decades: the Six Preludes of 1932, the Transcendental Studies of 1931 and the Five Piano Pieces already mentioned .

In the first two cases, we have the lesser-known Mignone from research on timbre and climates, from legendary or historical evocations, with clear influences from Debussy (in the fluidity and transparency of the No Coqueiral study , for example) or Mussorgsky (the Old theme study ).

Whether in these 'reports' that often turn to orchestral sounds; both in episodes of delicacy as those that address known quotes themes of Brazilian folklore ( Moonlight backcountry in Legend hinterland 2 , magnificently transfiguring a melancholy smell of earth, carnation fought with the rose in When I was little , one little piece to 1932 apprentices...); whether in the descriptivism of moments such as the Ants working , from Cinco Peças , O gato e o rato , from the same series, or Saci from Transcendental Studies, Clélia Iruzun displays a variety of resources and a sense of stylistic adequacy that honor the composer and delight at every moment.

Above all, she shows with her collection that Mignone was not only the composer of the improvisational facility of the Waltzes, having traversed more abstract and less 'popular' forms with the same constancy of inspiration, the same generous variety and the same mastery of the possibilities and challenges of piano language.


The works of Francisco Mignone were new to me, and making their acquaintance has been most enjoyable. They receive wholly committed performances from Clélia Iruzun, who met Mignone in the 1980s and to whom some of the works here are dedicated. Mignone was an accomplished composer (his Festa das Igrejas is currently available on Guild, conducted by no less a figure than Toscanini), conductor (of the Berlin Philharmonic and other leading orchestras) and also a pianist of some renown. Brazilian rhythms are blended with a harmonic language that is heavily influenced by western music, with shades of Debussy, Rachmaninov and Scriabin in evidence, and this attractive selection of his works can easily be listened to as a sequence of post-Romantic miniatures, the longest being a mere six minutes. The most effective, to my ears, are the waltzes (the Valsa-Choro, Valsa de Esquina and the Valsa Brasileira), of which Iruzun gives two from each set - beautifully engaging and melodious music - and it would be wonderful if an entire CD could be devoted to them. Iruzun might be well advised to do this as soon as possible: my guess is that other companies will be quick off the mark to record these eminently approachable works.


rose the star

The star rises. So common the expression. But so many times really confirmed. Just like that, it occurred to us when we listened to the then-girl Clélia Iruzun at the beginning of her pianistic career. The sum of qualities has become so patented, whether in the material or in the expressive sphere, there can be no doubt about the successful development awaiting him. A rising star.

The rise was always dotted with victories in local and international competitions, with encouragement from authorities such as Jacques Klein and Nelson Freire. The formal classes with the teacher Maria Curcio resulted for Clélia Iruzun in a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, in London, where she received teachings from Christopher Elton and, later, from Mercês de Silva Telles (in particular the improvement in the observation of styles).

Clélia Iruzun's artistic rise for some time has made her embedded in the worldwide constellation of the most interesting pianistic performers. In fact, the star has risen. It makes itself brilliantly visible in concerts and recitals in the West and East. Her recent Chinese "tournee" mobilized a large portion of the audience to hear her at the Shanghai Grand Theater and the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing (Clélia resides in the British capital).

It is essential to register in Clélia Iruzun's career her undying attachment to the work of our great composer Francisco Mignone. This one, since he heard it, became a special mentor and even dedicated a Suite to him. Throughout his life, the master never ceased to admire and applaud this Brazilian of Basque origin, the ideal interpreter of what he composed for piano. Proof of such interpretive qualification is the CD (lorelt Records Ltd.) that Clélia has just released among us.

All tracks belong to Mignone's invention. They are 33 in number, a legitimate overview of what he wrote for the keyboard. It encompasses what Mário de Andrade called the black phase, "characterized by the use of our Afro background".

The famous "Congada", by the way, opens the CD. There is no lack of waltzes ("corner", "Brazilian", "waltz-choro"). There are also five pieces dedicated to Clélia herself - and more pages that represent the compositional power of the unforgettable author. Just to conclude, Clelia Iruzun plays them all admirably. Truly stellar.

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