Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

(1906 - 1994)
Quartetto de Cordas No. 1 Op.160 (1964)
Catorze Anotações Op.170 (1966)
Suite Rústica No.2 Op.166 (1965)
Tatrai Quartet
Recorded: Hungaroton Studios, Budapest, April 1979
STRAUSS SP 4036 [46:30]

Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1906 - 1994), one of the first 20th Century Portuguese composers of any real significance, composed a huge and varied output in almost every genre, including a good deal of choral music (mainly on Portuguese poets' words), of orchestral and chamber works of which the present release presents a quite interesting selection.

These three pieces were written in quick succession, between 1964 and 1966. Lopes-Graça's First String Quartet, completed in 1964, was awarded the First Prize at the 1965 Prince Rainier III de Monaco composition competition. It is cast in five compact contrasted movements encompassing a wide range of moods and emotions, The music, somewhat redolent of late Bartók, that of, say, the Sixth String Quartet or the Third Piano Concerto, is by turns robust and flexible, warmly tuneful and rhythmically lively, full of invention and economical, superbly crafted and eminently accessible. A wonderful piece of music indeed.

The Suite Rústica No.2 Op.166 dates from 1965. It is based on Portuguese folk songs and dances as was the earlier orchestral Suite Rústica No.l of 1950. It is, of course, a lighter piece in which the composer's fresh and unproblematic approach of folk material is clearly in evidence. This is a delightful set of colourful miniatures.

On the other hand, Catorze Anotações Op.170 of 1966, yet another set of miniatures, is rather more akin to Webern's Bagatellen Op. 9 though in a much more accessible, less radical, musical language. As implied by the title ("14 Annotations"), the fourteen short sections vividly depict a huge variety of moods without any attempt at development. This beautifully varied and contrasted work is a further example of Lopes-Graça's ability to develop apparently simple material into a substantial musical structure.

Lopes-Graça's music, which was new to me (as it may be to many readers), proves very rewarding on repeated hearings. This and other releases from the same source show him to be a warm, human personality whose music possesses a strong power of communication which is possibly its most endearing quality. The present release, a re-issue of an older LP (which accounts for the limited playing time), provides for the best possible introduction to Lopes-Graça's music. The more so that the celebrated Tatrai Quartet prove deeply sympathetic and play these unfamiliar, though very attractive, works with conviction and commitment. The 1979 recorded sound may not be up to present-day standards but is still quite satisfying, and should not deter anyone from investigating the music of this very distinguished composer who was one of the major personalities of the 20th Century Portuguese music.

Hubert Culot

Other Lopes-Graça reviews


The prices remain the same but not the transport costs:
For UK --- £6 per CD
Freight --- till 3 CDs --- not registered --- £2.40; registered---- £3.50

For USA --$ 10 per CD
Freight --till 3 CDs -- not registered ---$5; registered ---- $6.80

Portusom accept Visa or American Express

Orders: for the attention of Eduarda Martins
by fax to the nº 351 21 7142353
By mail to:
Rua Adelaide Cabete,3C
1500-023 LISBOA

by e-mail

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: