Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Fernando LOPES-GRACA (1906 1994)
Viola Concertino (1962)
Piano Concertino (1954)
Divertimento (1957)
Ana Bela Chaves (viola); Helena Sả e Costa (piano); Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra; Janos Sandor
Recorded : Hungaroton Studios, Budapest, March 1981
STRAUSS SP 4129 [50:20]

These works were written between 1954 and 1962, i.e. during an important period in Lopes-Graças 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-Graças 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 composers 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-Graças mature years. Its three sections again are played without break and the freely chromatic idiom, characteristic of the composers mature style, is again much redolent of Bartok, a lasting influence in Lopes-Graças late music. The Viola Concertino has lively outer sections and a weightier, elegiac central meditation. Possibly this is one of Lopes-Graças finest concertante pieces.

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.

Hubert CULOT


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