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<<  -- 3 --  Bill Newman    DAME MOURA LYMPANY


On the eve of her 80th birthday on August 17th 1995, Dame Moura was presented with Portugal's highest honour -- The Medal and Cross of Prince Henry the Navigator. Sadly, she no longer plays, but Portuguese pianist Adriano Jordao decided that a celebratory event should take place at the Palace of Mateus, 80 kilometres from Porto and home of the Count and Countess Mateus. The Count is one of three brothers who produce magnificent port wine and the celebrated Mateus Rosé. Duo pianists Nettle and Markham performed on two concert grands, Jordao played Falla, and Sir Edward Heath conducted Elgar. What I remember most, though, was Moura directing the student orchestra in Johann Strauss the Father's Radetzky March.

The piano music of Chopin has always been dear to Moura's heart. While in New York, she talked with Polish pianist-teacher Edward Steuermann, who had been a composition pupil of Arnold Schoenberg. He thought of the Austrian composer as a post-romantic, and agreed with her rendering of the 3 Little Pieces -- in the style of Rachmaninov! Setting her mind at rest, Steuermann then went on to discuss Chopin. 'All that rubati is nonsense. Chopin wanted it to be like Mozart'.

The playing of My beloved Cortot has always inspired the ideal, but listening to her Nocturnes and Waltzes, one is aware of several things. Holding the hands close to the piano, as Kabos stipulated, those exquisite pianissimi possess magical refinements of touch, while the singing tone of the right hand melodies has a personal beauty and brilliance that carries the phrases aloft to higher echelons. Listen also to the left hand, and the subtle rhythmic inflections and emphases, with their natural evenness in pace and flow. Each piece carries its own individual message -- taken as a whole, they are a remarkable assessment of the composer's genius.

My close friend Jean Cochran told me a wonderful story about her favourite cat Kits. One sunny afternoon she was playing Moura's Nocturnes, and suddenly saw a paw extended across the piano keys and touch a note. Moura was enchanted!

Copyright © 5 June 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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