José F. Vásquez Impressions for Piano Impressive

During his lifetime, José F. Vásquez (1896-1961) was a major figure in Mexican classical music. As a teacher, he founded the Escuela Libre de Música, still in operation. He also founded the Music Department at the University of Mexico. 

As a conductor, he led the University’s orchestra (which he also founded). He enjoyed an international career as a conductor. 

And Vásquez composed over 200 works. His catalog included five symphonies, three piano concertos, two violin concertos, and eight operas. And after his death, most of it vanished. I couldn’t find many details.  But Vásquez’s manuscripts were scattered to the four winds after his death. 

His son has spent the last four decades tracking down his father’s music. And as he recovers it, we’ll have more recordings like this.

Vladimir Curiel performs all five series of Impressions by Vásquez. Not much is known about these works. He composed all five series (as they’re called) in the 1920s. Each piece seems to be a test case. Vásquez starts with a concept and then works through it over the course of a 3-5 minute piano piece.

But don’t think these are experiments. Each one is a finely crafted gem. Vásquez shows great imagination. His treatment of his themes varies from piece to piece. For the most part, these seem to be simple pieces to play. But there’s a subtly in their simplicity. 

Curiel plays with sympathetic expression and delicate musicality. And it works. I was entranced by the opening track. And the music retained its hold on me throughout the recording. 

These are beautiful miniatures that would benefit any piano program. I’m hoping there are more Vásquez recordings in store. He had a talent that deserves to be celebrated. 

José F. Vásquez: The Complete Impressions for Piano
Vladimir Curiel, piano
Toccata Classics TOCC 0693

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