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Lopes-Graca: Piano Concertos No 1 & 2 / Nebolsin

Lopes-graca / Nebolsin / Bamert
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572817   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Fernando Lopes-Graça
Performer:  Eldar Nebolsin
Conductor:  Matthias Bamert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Porto Casa Da Música Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The two piano concertos of Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graça date from 1940 ad 1950 (rev. 1971) respectively, but have a lot in common stylistically. Both share a basis in folk music, but don’t seem to quote any particular melody slavishly. The liner notes suggest a kinship to Bartók, but Prokofiev also comes to mind. The Second Concerto is a darker work than the First, but not unduly so. They are both very colorfully scored; in fact, the opening of the First Concerto bears a striking resemblance to Bernard Herrmann’s score to The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (sound clips), although the film obviously came rather later. Still, you will get the idea when listening.

Lopes-Graça also reveals a certain
Read more fondness for sequential repetition similar to Herrmann’s, and this tends to undercut the fact that the quick movements mostly employ traditional sonata forms (by blurring the distinction between development and mere ornamental repetition). Still, the music remains really enjoyable, and it would be difficult to imagine a more effective presentation of the virtuosic solo parts than that offered by Eldar Nebolsin. He clearly has fun with the quick outer movements, and especially the finales, with their touches of rustic humor. The central slow movements, in contrast, are poetic and often exquisite. Their brevity recalls similar movements in Schumann’s major works, while the predominance of quick music reveals the composer’s abundance of youthful energy.

The Porto orchestra plays very capably for the reliable Matthias Bamert, although the engineering is somewhat dull in the upper registers. Lopes-Graça’s scoring clearly could glitter more than it does here, but the problem isn’t serious enough to dampen your listening pleasure to any major degree. It just takes a few moments of adjustment. These works are a real find; it would be wonderful to hear them live. Until that opportunity arrises, this disc is just the ticket.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1 by Fernando Lopes-Graça
Performer:  Eldar Nebolsin (Piano)
Conductor:  Matthias Bamert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Porto Casa Da Música Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940 
Concerto for Piano no 2 by Fernando Lopes-Graça
Performer:  Eldar Nebolsin (Piano)
Conductor:  Matthias Bamert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Porto Casa Da Música Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950/1971 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Fine Performance Of Unfamiliar Concertos July 31, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Portugese classical music is well worth investigating, and this excellent Naxos recording fits perfectly into its distinguished series of disks featuring Portugese composers, Freitas Branco, Braga Santos, and now Lopes-Graca. Lopes-Graca's two piano concertos were written in 1940 and 1951, respectively, with Piano Concerto # 2 being revised in 1971, so it may be fair to say that each work shows a different phase in the composer's career. I found both works to be highly attractive, with Piano Concerto # 2 having a freer, more open characteristic, at times almost jazzy. There is excellent balance between piano Elder Nebolsin and the orchestra throughout the entire program, and the sound of the Porto Symphony Orchestra is just fine. Although I dare say that this music is largely unknown outside of Portugal, it has high quality and definitely merits a listen. Recommended." Report Abuse
 Portuguese Gold July 9, 2013 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "Fernando Lopes-Graca was passionate about the folk music of his native Portugal. And like his contemporary Bela Bartok, he collected it, studied it, absorbed it, and synthesized it into his own music. His two piano concertos reflect that passion. Both have strong folk rhythms to them. The first piano concerto even has a folk ensemble-like passage lead by an out-of-tune violin. But that roughness soon gives way to some sophisticated music-making. Lopes-Graca started his second piano concerto a few years after the first. The second concerto sounds more lyrical and expansive (especially in the second movement) than the first. Highly recommended." Report Abuse
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