As a committed socialist, the Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graça (1906–94) faced repression from Salazar’s right-wing dictatorship: his works were banned and he was stripped of his official positions. Lopes-Graça responded in music, evolving a feisty, wiry Bartókian style that drew on Portuguese folk-music. This recording features Lopes-Graça’s own Bechstein piano, played by Olga Prats, who worked closely with him.
Olga prats, piano; Quarteto Lopes-Graça
Catalogue No: TOCC0254EAN/UPC: 5060113442543Release Date: 04.09.2015Composer: Fernando Lopes-Graça Artists: Olga Prats, Quarteto Lopes-Graça
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Hubert Culot :
“… very distinguished work done by Toccata Classics… the Piano Quartet is fairly substantial… Lopes-Graça’s liking for and understanding of Bartók’s so-called imaginary folklore has been well documented. His music has more often than not been infused with folk inflections and original as well as real Portuguese folk songs. … In the masterly Fourteen Annotations of 1966 Lopes-Graça ventures into a more daring stylistic world. In this piece the composer looks to the example of Webern. Each movement is quite short and the sequence suggests a series of moods rather than a fully integrated piece of music. One may also think of Prokofiev’s brilliant Visions fugitives, particularly so in Barshai’s splendid version for string orchestra. … Lopes-Graça returned to the medium almost twenty years later when he completed the Second String Quartet in 1982. This is fairly concise and compact in four short and highly contrasted movements. Stylistically the music is now clearly that of a master in full command of his aims and means. It unfolds almost effortlessly in each of the movements with not a single note wasted. The writing for strings is masterly throughout and – again – it seems clear that the medium meant much to the composer so that there may be cause to regret that he did not compose more for it. Lopes-Graça was an important figure in Portugal and the recent reassessment of some of his vast output is most welcome indeed. … In the meantime one must be grateful for having these substantial and often beautiful works in fine performances and recording. I also want to single out the excellent notes accompanying this and Volume 1.” —Music Web International, November 2015
Maria Nockin :
“Olga Prats is the grande dame of Portuguese piano music… The [Piano] Quartet plays this angular music as though it were child’s play, and Prats exhibits her well-known virtuosity. … the 14 Annotations for String Quartet are fascinating tiny pieces that feature strong rhythms and inventive dissonances. Rarely does a string quartet have to play such percussive notes. The first few sparse annotations build on each other and result in a luxurious sound in the middle section that grows progressively thinner in the 12th, 13th, and 14th segments. These are some of Lopes-Graça’s most original works, because each explores a particular aspect of music. His ideas relate to Stravinsky, Bartók, or Webern, but the music is totally Lopes-Graça. … He composed a great many pieces during the last 20 years of his life, one of which is his Second String Quartet. The second movement contains a folk dance that extends into a rhythmic dialogue with dramatic overtones and a propulsive undercurrent. … The finale includes material from the first movement as well as new music in a memorable whirl of interesting textures. This disc is a must for connoisseurs of 20th-century music and those who love unusual string quartets. I really enjoyed it and expect many readers will too.” —Fanfare Magazine, March/April 2016
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