Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1906 - 1994)
Três Sonetos de Camões Op.27 (1939)
Aquela Triste e Leda Madrugada Op.112 (1959)
Seis Sonetos de Camões Op.215
Dez Novos Sonetos de Camões Op.231 (1984)
Fernando Serafim, tenor - Filipe de Sousa, piano
Recorded: Studio Jorsom, December 1983 and June 1989 (Op.231)
STRAUSS SP 4050 [48:42]

Lopes-Graça's huge and varied output includes a good deal of vocal and choral music of which the beautiful Requiem pelas vitimas do fascismo em Portugal of 1979 may be the crowning peak. Lopes-Graça mainly set texts by Portuguese poets, past and present, and made many settings, both for solo voice and chorus, of sonnets by the great classic Portuguese poet Luis de Camões (1524 - 1590). The present release includes all the solo songs written to sonnets of Camões. They span the composer's whole composing life since Tres sonetos de Camões Op.27 were written as early as 1939 whereas his last settings (those of Op.231) date from 1984.

The earlier settings, i.e. Tres Sonetos de Camões Op.27 and the song Aquela Triste e Leda Nadrugada Op. 112 (1959), are simple, fairly straightforward and modally inflected, sometimes calling, say, John Ireland or Frank Bridge to mind.

Seis Sonetos de Camões Op.215 is not a song-cycle, but rather a collection of settings composed at different periods between the 1940s and 1979 (and maybe later still, though we are not told). As such this set may be heard as a transitional piece since the earlier settings, such as Alegres Campos dating from the 1940s, have still much in common with those of Op.27 or the song of 1959 (Op.112) whereas the later ones are more personal utterances, more akin to Lopes-Graça's mature works (e.g. his two string quartets, Canto de Amor e de Morte for piano quintet or his Requiem of 1979).

Diez Novos Sonetos de Camões Op.231 of 1984, incidentally his last solo settings of Camões' verse, belong to the composer's mature works. By then he had fully mastered his freely atonal expressionism which combines technical mastery and expressive freedom. Therefore these songs are the climax and the summation of a lifelong concern with the poet's words and wonderful examples of Lopes-Graça's warm, subtle, unfuzzy lyricism (a lesson he may have learned through his involvement in Portuguese folk music though there is nothing folksy about his Camões settings).

To tell the truth, I was at first a bit scared at the prospect of a whole release entirely devoted to songs on Camões' sonnets, and feared that the whole sequence might prove a bit indigestible. I am now happy to have been proved wrong for the richness, variety and freshness of Lopes-Graça's settings make for a most rewarding musical experience.

Tenor Fernando Serafim and pianist Filipe de Sousa, both names new to me, prove themselves sympathetic and dedicated exponents of Lopes-Graça's music which again radiates warmth and humanity.

Really well worth having, even if you are far from fluent in Portuguese this communicates strongly through wholeheartedness and sincerity.

Hubert Culot



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