Cuban-born Joaquín Nin's lesser-known music for piano combines rhythmically robust Spanish elements reminiscent of De Falla's Three-Cornered Hat orchestral suite with dreamy Debussy-inspired Impressionism. This tension between virile Flamenco-derivative staccato accents and folkloric dance motifs on the 'left' hand, and legato cantilena interludes with heavy use of damper pedal washes on the 'right', makes for an astoundingly rich, romantic oeuvre spanning 76 minutes of dense piano music that constantly vacillates between the opposing Latin and French impulses.
At once bold and dreamy, boisterous and poetic, tempestuous and controlled, always suspended on flexibly shifting timing, Joaquin's compositions give no overt hints about his Cuban heritage and completely eschew any Afro-Jazz elements. Rather, the Latin motifs seem clearly derived from Iberian symphonic precedents which makes sense when considering Nin's life cycle from 1879 to 1949, right at the transitional cusp of late Romanticism and Impressionism.
Juilliard alumni and Sascha Gorodnitzski protege Thomas Tirino dives right into this wealth of stylistic colors and temperaments, equally at home with the rapid trill progressions as he is with the thunderous chordal accents and staccato interludes, likely leaving most first-time listener at a complete loss when challenged to guess the works' author. You'll seem to recognize bits of chromatic Liszt, bits of Chopin charms, bits of Debussy moodiness and Ibert sprightliness - and you'll never guess correctly unless you were a true pianistic connoisseur. Major kudos to the Koch label for once again exploding the confines of the usual classical repertoire by devoting an entire album to these sparkling gems that unquestionably deserve a far wider audience. Highly recommended for all lovers of complex romantic solo piano.