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Eurico Tomás de LIMA (1908-1989)
Collected Works Vol. 2
Sonata no.1 in C# minor (1933) [18:51]
Sonata no.2 in C minor (1935)* [22:07]
Sonatina no.1 in A major (1938)* [7:23]
Algarve (Suite for Piano) (1941) [14:30]
Commentary on CDs 1-2 in Portuguese (audio text) [10:35]
Sonata no.3 in A minor (1948; 2nd version, 1963)* [7:55]
Sonatina no.2 in C major (1950) [9:34]
Sonata no.4 in F major (1954) [17:45]
Island of Paradise (Suite in six tableaux) (1966) [21:20]
Commentary on CDs 1-2 in English (audio text) [10:42]
Miguel Campinho (piano)
rec. Auditorium of the Academy of Music, Paços de Brandão, Portugal, 6 and 10 August 2012
* World première recordings

This two CD set of piano music by Eurico Tomás de Lima is my introduction to 20th century Portuguese music. Then after some research on the internet I discovered that more than that it is my first introduction to any music by a Portuguese composer from any century, apart from that of Manuel Cardoso (1566-1650). This was a surprising not to say shocking discovery; why should that be? In the case of this composer the pianist Miguel Campinho tells me that none of this music is published, existing only in manuscript so that will be a major reason here. It is to be hoped that this disc will help solve that situation for I can easily imagine other pianists wanting to follow Campinho’s lead and get to play this truly beautiful music. Given that they are unpublished it is surprising that only three of the works on the discs are receiving their world première recordings.
The music is unashamedly romantic and full of the most disarmingly glorious melodies one could wish for and with a distinctly recognisable Iberian flavour. While sonatas 1 and 2 are extremely romantic in style the sonatina no.1 in which de Lima shows that he was searching for a somewhat contemporary feel is nevertheless still delicious. The first cd ends with de Lima’s 1941 suite which describes various aspects of Portugal’s Algarve. It is so appealing that it encourages thoughts of a visit.
If the first of de Lima’s sonatinas showed a search for a more contemporary musical language in contrast to his earlier works then the opening work on the second CD shows how successful he was in finding it since his sonata no.3 is from a completely different sound world. While it is much more contemporary in feel it still has its romantic connections. This sonata, written in 1948 and revised in 1963, with its aggressively spiky opening movement, comes as something of a shock after the languidly lyrical nature of the music on disc 1. Even though the second movement is more relaxed the last is a return to the power exhibited in the first. However it is an extremely satisfying work and this newly found musical language continues to be expressed in the next work, his sonatina no.2 from 1950. This opens with another powerfully stated movement while the second is much more gentle marked Pastoral. This work too has its moments of passionately expressed feelings. Its closing movement is stringently stated.
De Lima’s fourth and last sonata which dates from 1954 is the culmination of his search for a more modernistic sound. It is considerably longer than the two preceding works. It too alternates two outer movements that are more strident in tone with a central that is more gently lyrical. Folkloric strands are to be heard throughout.
The final work of this two CD set is entitled Island of Paradise. This is de Lima’s musical tribute to Madeira where he spent a year as Artistic Director of its Academy of Music and Fine Arts. In a series of six tableaux he explores different aspects of what he described as “the beauty of this magical island” adding that “I had to express myself in music - beautiful, evanescent and seductive music, which awakens in the hearts of men a world of dreams that only poetry can perfectly understand.” Using local folksong as his basic material de Lima weaves a rich musical tapestry that is both beautiful and highly effective. In the same way as his Algarve suite did, it makes one wish to experience the place oneself which shows how successful it is in achieving its declared aim.
This music shows a wonderfully creative composer and his development down the years. It is always pleasing to find someone whose music has been unfairly ignored suddenly emerge from the shadows. There is more to be discovered and these recordings show how worthwhile that will be. Miguel Campinho is a powerful advocate of the music of his countryman. The recording of these works was quite clearly a labour of love and his commitment to his chosen project is very evident. I am so grateful to have been able to discover yet another composer new to me. I would urge any lover of twentieth century piano music to explore this disc and I can guarantee that the music will captivate them just as it did me.
The audio text in Portuguese at the end of disc 1 and in English at the close of disc 2 is a useful addition for anyone whose sight is not up to reading the programme notes printed in the booklet.
Steve Arloff

See also review by John France