A portrait in sound
Carlos Gómez Amat

Ever since I began to record his songs, years ago, the Majorcan musician, Antoni Parera Fons, caught my attention, how he seemed to be in full-control of his art with sensitivity and creativity. These short works by Parera Fons express a wide range stylistically, they express different moods, different approaches, different aims. But, they all  pay special tribute to what we often call ” an inspired melodic line”. This is something that, in spite of the vast an different aesthetic ideas in vogue at any given period in time, did exist in the past, does exist today and will exist in the future. Sometimes the idea of melody has been declared dead and buried, but it’s always there down deep in our heart, and then there are the so-called  “anti-lyrical” movements that call themselves “modern”, in the bottom of any wardrobe closet. Who was it that said something about ten percent  inspiration and ninety percent perspiration–this phrase has been attributed to so many different people I don’t know who really said it anymore–but it did stress the importance of hard work as a major factor in any artistic or scientific endeavor or creation and it also recognized  of what Beethoven called that “divine spark”. Another famous line, says that if inspiration does suddenly come to you, it’d better be while you’re working.

Although we know that all art is artifice, we tend to say that a melody is “natural” when it occurs in a logical succession of pitches in accordance with the traditions of Western culture, although these same sounds effect people in different ways with each new age. There is a flowing melody in the twelve songs written specifically and very loving for dear Montserrat. These songs are  a self-portrait in music. The lyrics are by Josep Maria Andreu– with the title Dreams and Memories– and they play with the biography and  personality of the singer, recalling how she began, how she often felt lost somewhere in a no-man’s-land between her stage characters and the picturesque voice teacher.

Dreams and Memories feed on nostalgia. But, nostalgia is not necessarily melancholic. Sometimes melancholy or perhaps simply long-suffering sadness are inevitable, and here they are well described. But, at other times, a smile or an amusing thought may occasionally shine through; this is what happens to  Montserrat Caballé something she’s always been able to do, as the intelligent woman she is.

Here there are the shadows of beloved friends, far away now or absent, cityscapes accompanying brighter moments; we were sure the world was ours to conquer, it was at our fingertips, but our hopes and wishes leave loose strings, or sometimes get lost in the hassle. Words expressing love are the most beautiful form of communication we have. Half-forgotten details suddenly pop up. Unfulfilled desires, a our whole experience condensed into one simple poem, poetry full of sweet-smelling fragrances and unspoken thoughts–as a poet once said–an easy-going, laid-back elegance. This music is a response to all this, with the voice in its melody and the piano, always supportive, always at its side, describing every word that’s sung and adopting the lively character of the venerable old Catalan song. Catalan culture is at the heart of everything here, in the popular tongue-twister or parodies we hear, in the old but refined and beautiful language which once dominated the Mediterranean.