> LOPES-GRACA Paris 1937 SP4352 [RB]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1906-1994)
Paris 1937 for two pianos (1968)
Elegia (1953)
Piano Sonata No. 4 (1961)
Toccata, Andante and Fugato (1991)
Miguel Henriques (piano)
Ana Valente (piano) (in Paris 1937 only)
rec St George's Church, Lisboa, Portugal, 29-31 May 2000
STRAUSS-PORTUGALSOM SP4352 [51.50]


Paris 1937 is a bold and blisteringly volcanic piece sounding like an Ornstein-type eruption for the pianola. It is brief, at almost nine minutes, and comes across as a dissonant nephew of Milhaud's Scaramouche. The work is based on a failed ballet Fièvre du Temps and conjures the mood which Lopes-Graça knew firsthand and the gathering stormclouds of the time in the French capital.

The Elegia is tougher; dissonant in the manner of Rawsthorne and Gerhard. The notes draw attention to its message of anti-fascist protest. I find it far more impressive than the notewriter did. It has the uncompromising character of the Bridge Piano Sonata. Contrary to what the sleeve-note tells you the next work is the Toccata, Andante and Fugato which is from the composer's eighty-fifth year - he died at age 88. It is relentlessly stark and stony.

The four movement Fourth Sonata was premiered on Radio Geneva. It remains uncompromising but there is reflection (especially in the wonderful Andante con moto) and humour alongside the body-blows and severity. The veloce pays its tactful tribute to Bartok's Allegro Barbaro and to the wartime sonatas of Prokofiev.

Both Valente and Henriques are Oporto-born and both teach at the Lisbon Conservatory. Notes are in Portuguese and English with excellent translations (typos still not completely purged - resistence instead of resistance) by composer Christopher Bochmann.

This is a fine series and long may it continue. Strauss SA are doing valiant and valuable advocacy work to make the treasury of Portuguese music not merely a national legacy but a world heritage.

In a nutshell: Lopes-Graça as the percussively stark Stravinskian of the piano. A rather intriguing collection of piano music which is well worth hearing. Stand-out tracks are the Elegia and the Andante and Allegro con brio from the Sonata.


Rob Barnett

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