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An American in Portugal

MALCOLM MILLER attends Nancy Lee Harper's recital
of Portuguese piano music in London


In tune with the Iberian theme of this year's Proms, a week-long series of concerts at the Regent Hall, Oxford Street, London, is also featuring a wealth of Spanish and Portuguese music. The Regent Hall Summer Festival, presented by the Iberian and Latin American Music Society with the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe, under the artistic direction of the pianist Alberto Portugheis, featured a week of lunchtime recitals and three evening concerts, from 29 July to 3 August 2002 (two presented by the present writer).

One of the lunchtime concerts was given by Nancy Lee Harper, a noted American pianist and currently Professor at the University of Averio in Portugal, founder of the EPTA Portugal, an organiser of many courses and festivals in Portugal. Her programme offered a refreshing journey through three centuries of Portuguese piano music, beginning with an energetic and sparkling account of Scarlatti's brilliant C major sonata Kk 502, the characteristic repetitions and cadence extensions brightly pointed.

Nancy Lee Harper
Nancy Lee Harper

Her forthright tone well conveyed the melodic appeal of the Sonata in C minor of Carlos Seixas, whose output, though less familiar than Scarlatti was influential in the early history of piano music and well deserves revival. Next to these late Baroque sonatas, the Dos Sonatas de El Escorial of Rodolfo Halffter projected their wit and modernist irony, with some wonderful bitonal effects, using familiar Baroque textures, a curious neo-classicism immersed in the Spanish keyboard tradition.

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Copyright © 5 August 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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