These works were written between 1954 and 1962, i.e.
during an important period in Lopes-Graça’s musical progress.
During this key period which was quite prolific, the composer progressively
relinquished his earlier, at times neo-classical style for a more advanced,
freely chromatic idiom.
Thus the earliest work here, the Piano Concertino
of 1954 still harks back to Stravinsky and the late Bartok. In the outer
sections (the piece plays without break) the piano is handled rather
as a percussive instrument. Short rhythmic motives and various ostinati
carry the music forward in a playful interplay between piano and orchestra
whereas the central Lento quasi barcarolla is a dreamy reverie
for piano. Lopes-Graça’s Piano Concertino is a
fine, extrovert piece cast in a colourful, accessible musical idiom.
Originally written as incidental music for a public
occasion, the Divertimento of 1957, scored for winds,
percussion, cellos and basses, is delightful light music of quality,
still bearing the imprint of Stravinsky with near-quotations from this
composer’s work, and at times redolent of Poulenc (Suite Française)
or of Milhaud in his Provençal mood. This unproblematic, outdoor
music does not plumb any great depths but is just happy to entertain.
The somewhat later Viola Concertino completed
in 1962 belongs to Lopes-Graça’s mature years. Its three sections
again are played without break and the freely chromatic idiom, characteristic
of the composer’s mature style, is again much redolent of Bartok, a
lasting influence in Lopes-Graça’s late music. The Viola
Concertino has lively outer sections and a weightier, elegiac
central meditation. Possibly this is one of Lopes-Graça’s finest
The present Portuguese soloists give assured, committed
performances and get a hearty support from their Hungarian colleagues.
These Hungarian recordings made in 1981 still sound remarkably well.
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