Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Fernando LOPES-GRACA (1906 – 1994)
Concerto da Camera col Violoncello Obbligato Op.167 (1966)
Sinfonietta "Homenagem a Haydn" Op.220 (1980)
Maria José Falcão (cello); Budapest Symphony Orchestra; György Lehel
Recorded : Hungaroton Studios, Budapest, June 1985
STRAUSS SP 4033 [34:36]



In spite of its diminutive title, Lopes-Graça’s Concerto da Camera col Violoncello Obbligato Op.167 , written in 1966 for Mstislav Rostropovich who first performed it in Moscow in 1967 and who recorded it some time later, is one of this composer’s greatest masterpieces. Its comparative short length is packed with music of the highest quality and, as I find is often the case with cello concertos, it is also one of his most personal statements. It certainly is one of the peaks of Lopes-Graça’s mature years, as is that other unquestionable masterpiece of his, Canto de Amor e de Morte. It has the same economy of means resulting in deeply moving effects. Its freely chromatic idiom is pregnant with tension and passion which the composer controls with consummate mastery. Again I am in no doubt that this beautiful, deeply moving and gripping piece is one of Lopes-Graça’s masterpieces and one of the finest cello concertos composed in the second half of the 20th Century. Maria José Falcão is an eloquent soloist and has the full measure of the music superbly supported by Lehel and his orchestra.

By contrast the Sinfonietta Op.220 completed in 1980 and subtitled Homage to Haydn seems almost lightweight although it clearly avoids any attempt at facile Neo-classicism. There is just one brief Haydn quotation in the third movement (in fact from Haydn’s Military Symphony), whereas the remaining music is pure Lopes-Graça in its sincerity and unaffected simplicity, a trait he obviously shares with Haydn.

In this as in the Cello Concerto György Lehel and his orchestra play this unfamiliar music with evident relish and commitment, particularly so in the masterly Cello Concerto.


Hubert CULOT



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