This is the most recent issue by Portugalsom and deserves a heralding it
is unlikely to receive from any other quarter (not that I get to see Fanfare
Lopes-Graça's piano music is neither modernistic nor complacently
retrospective. Messiaen and early Sorabji come to mind from time to time
although it is by no means as 'advanced' as these parallels may set you thinking.
It is better to think of these as impressionistic cousins to Granados
Goyescas and Falla's piano solo music.
The music is usually provocatively phrased and holds the attention with mesmeric
interest. As for his approach, the preludes are nicely variegated: repose
and excitement are encompassed, fantasy and simple pleasures. The preludes
vary in duration from the longest at 4:48 (18) to the shortest at 1:03.
Variety and riches are on offer: an impressionistically shimmering march
(1); grim resolve (This Is The Army Mr Jones) in Vaughan Williams tones (2);
A scherzando recalling Frank Bridge (3) and a shadowy tenebroso march (4).
The fifth prelude is a lively rustico all sunny spring morning like the livelier
of Frank Bridge's Two Jefferies poems. Number 6 is Iberian with a typically
Moorish slide and slip in the music. Seven speaks of shady trees and Eight
of condensation dripping from the roof of some great cavern 'measureless
to man'. The Ninth relates closely to a typical accompaniment to a song by
Peter Warlock. The tenth has the grimness of No. 2 but is definitely Hispanic
in its arching geometry. Number 11 is extremely impressive with a great theme
climbing triumphantly out of the depths. The Twelfth (non troppo mosso) bustles
with fleetly changing moods.
The Thirteenth's lilt of gentle waves and interacting currents seems set
in a submarine cave lit with green shifting light. Its successor is struck
through with agitation. Number 15 reverts to the early morning freshness
of Prelude 5. Sixteen is a study in clangour followed by a prelude accurately
marked . Number 18 has fragile beauty and sense of warm encompassing
wonder. 19 mosso seems to relates to play-ground dances or a folksy music
box. The twentieth is a whirling firefly of a vivace. Un poco
liberamente has a Bridge like hesitancy. Number 22 is presto - as light
as an oil film on water and throwing shadows back towards Tarrega's guitar
music. the following Allegretto seems uncertain and nervous. The final prelude
is a stamping dance one might innocently link with Manuel de Falla. It displays
a darkling triumph hard won from the inky depths. Its insistent pressure
reminded me also of Medtner. It has the complexity of oceanic depths. The
sea plays a very significant role in this important cycle. This is fitting
given Portugal's historic links with the sea both as threat and as bountiful
The cycle is dedicated to Luis de Freitas Branco who died in the year when
they were completed. The elder composer had written a sequence of 15 preludes
in 1918 and these were in turn dedicated to Vianna da Motta, Lopes-Graça's
The main notes are by Sergio Azevedo although, in addition, the pianist himself
contributes a brief essay on the sequence.
There are good long breaks between the tracks. Other companies should take
note. You should also note that this disc plays for much longer than is usual
in Portusom discs.
I rate these Preludes very highly. Certainly if you appreciate the piano
music of de Falla, the Essays in the Modes by John Foulds, the
Shostakovich preludes and fugues and the works of Szymanowski you will need
to hear this disc.
A fine issue which all lovers of good music should add to their collection.
The prices are: UK pounds- 6£ and US dollars -$10 (freight not included).
The transport costs are :
For UK----- 1 or 2 CDs ------UK£1.60; 3 CDs ----£2.50
For USA---- 1 or 2 CDs-----US$3.50 ; 3 CDs --- $5.50
Orders by fax to
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orch score and parts available from Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores
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