<< -- 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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