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CD Review

Fernando Lopes-Graça

Complete Works
for Violin & Piano and Solo Violin

  • Violin Sonatina #1, Op. 10 (LG 96)
  • Violin Sonatina #2, Op. 11 (LG 97)
  • Prelúdio, capricho e galope, Op. 33 (LG 98)
  • 3 Piéces (Pecas), Op. 118 (LG 100)
  • Pequeno triptico (Small Triptych), Op. 124 (LG 101)
  • Prelúdio e fuga for Solo Violin, Op. 137 (LG 137)
  • 4 Miniaturas, Op. 218 (LG 103)
  • Esponsais for Solo Violin, Op. 230 (LG 116)
  • Adágio doloroso e fantasia, Op. 242 (LG 105)
Bruno Monteiro, violin
João Paulo Santos, piano
Naxos 9.70177 70:35 Digital Download Only in U.S.
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanFind it at CD Universe Find it at JPC

When I first started writing for Classical Net, Mr. Bruno Monteiro was one of the first to contact me. Since that time, I've had the pleasure of submitting reviews of all his available albums for this site, and he has been as generous with his time as he has been with his music. In recital, he plays with the very talented João Paulo Santos, and together they release their first project for Naxos together. I am very pleased to share my thoughts again here, especially on what I see as a very important disc.

Even your diehard music friends might be challenged to name a Portuguese composer, but Fernando Lopes-Graça is a name you might want to remember. Naxos has done a good job giving listeners chances to hear his music, and here is another. I would best describe it as accessible, yet difficult. Certainly, it demands an enormous amount of skill on the part of the musicians, but it is not a good passive listening project. Having turned his back on folk music, which he felt had been corrupted by his country's regime; he instead studied in France and went back further to very traditional Portuguese fare. He was understandably unpopular with the authorities and jailed several times, but nonetheless holds a special position in the musical history of Portugal.

There is a great deal of passion in this music; it is deeply rooted in the oldest melodies at the composers' disposal. It dances, it smiles, it cries. It has an intensity and range of emotion that will appeal to some and tax others. Easy listening this is not, but it is rewarding music, too. As for Monteiro and Santos, they take to the music of their late countryman as if they were born to play it – and perhaps they were. There's a really appealing sense of humanity here that comes from struggle. But it's not a struggle that draws attention to itself or ever turns pretentious. Rather, the music's human qualities simply make it that much more worth listening to.

Monteiro has a unique sound, and he's had the misfortune to be captured on disc in some rather odd ways. Naxos gives him the warmest and fullest sound he's ever had. As for Santos, he's as steady and intelligent a partner one could ask for. The solo selections are equally distinguished. With three world premières and two excellent artists on board, this is essential listening for anyone willing to try something different. Fernando Lopes-Graça had a genuine musical voice, and it is one that I'm glad to have heard. I also hope that this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership on Naxos for Monteiro and Santos. They deserve it.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman

Trumpet