Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Fernando LOPES-GRACA (1906 – 1994)
História Trágica-Maritima (1942/3, rev. 1960)*
Viagens na minha Terra (1953, orch. 1969)

Oliveira Lopes (baritone)*; Hungarian Radio Chorus*; Budapest Symphony Orchestra*; Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra; Gyula Németh
Recorded : Hungaroton Studios, Budapest, October 1974* and February 1980
STRAUSS 870003/PS [72:50]


Lopes-Graça’s História Trágica-Maritima was completed in 1943, originally as a song cycle for tenor and orchestra. It was revised in 1960 when the composer opted for a baritone, wordless alto voices in the outer movements and revised the scoring. Portugal has a long naval history but the poems set by the composer generally avoid the epic aspects of Portugal’s naval history to focus on human aspects of it.

The first movement Sagres acts as a beautifully atmospheric prelude in which alto voices add colour to the ruminating, foreboding orchestral sounds. The second movement A Largada ("Departure") opens in buoyant mood and ends in subdued tones ("callous hands waved farewell"). A Espera ("Waiting") is a mysterious nocturne of great beauty suggesting some ominous expectancy. The next movement O Regresso ("The Return") is full of contrasts suggesting alternately sea and earth, hopeful faith and episodes of tragedy. O Achado ("Discovery") opens with bright fanfares but the music soon evokes the varied moods of the poem. The following movement Tormenta ("Tempest") is appropriately the most vigorous, animated section of the work and the only one in which Lopes-Graça enlarges his expressive palette by using some Sprechgesang. The last section Mar ("Sea") logically enough recalls the main material from the prologue thus bringing this wonderful piece full circle. If, as suggested by Constant Lambert, Debussy’s La Mer is clearly a broad canvas depicting the sea from which Man is conspicuously absent, Lopes-Graça’s beautiful cantata firmly puts Man at the heart of Portuguese naval exploration. A wonderful work that clearly deserves wider exposure which this fine recorded performance allows for.

Viagens en minha Terra ("Travels through my Country"), originally a piano suite completed in 1953, was orchestrated in 1969 (the original piece was then split into two suites while the order of the various movements was modified). Its evocation of Portugal’s history and folklore nevertheless eschews any bluntly picturesque cliché, but rather achieves its aim by way of some sort of imaginary folklore (again Bartok’s model) and of allusions to rather than quotations of Portuguese folk music, as the composer also did in his Suite Rustica No.2 for string quartet. Lopes-Graça’s scoring calls for a very large orchestra which the composer uses efficiently, though quite sparingly, preferring subtle colour touches rather than big brushstrokes. Viagens en minha Terra is a colourful, attractive piece of music which again deserves to be better known.

These two scores actually make for a very attractive diptych evoking various facets of Portugal’s history and culture without any recourse to dated or superficial pictorialism, but rather by putting the Universal Man firmly at the heart of it.

To my mind this is one of the finest releases devoted to Lopes-Graça’s warmly humane, generous music and probably the best possible introduction to his musical and human thinking.


Hubert CULOT


For UK --- £6 each
Freight --- up to 3 CDs --- not registered --- £2.40;registered---- £3.50

For USA --$ 10 each
Freight --up to 3CDs -- not registered ---$5 ;registered ---- $6.80

We accept Visa or American Express

Orders : to the attention of Eduarda Martins
by fax to the nº 351217141723
By mail to :
Rua Adelaide Cabete,3C
1500-023 LISBOA
by e-mail to:


Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: