<< -- 2 -- Malcolm Miller IBERIAN DISCOVERY
In the slow movement Nancy Lee Harper conveyed the elegant, Schubertian lyricism with
gentle resonance, poetic plangent chromaticism, and a touching counterpoint in the codetta.
The last movement, Molto Allegro, again exuded the romantic turbulence yet restrained
within classical proportions. The main theme's bristling energy was brightly complemented by
virtuoso scalic passages and there were overtones of the Appassionata in the second
subject. Particularly impressive were the richly articulated imitative textures of this fizzing
Late romantic pianism ensued with Nancy Lee Harper's compelling performance of two pieces
by Oscar da Silva (1870-1958), a Portuguese composer who studied with Reinecke and
Clara Schumann, and whose fascinating yet little known late-romantic oeuvre is seldom
performed or recorded, some of it still in manuscript. The second of his extensive set of
Dolorosas, character pieces of a nocturne-like lyricism, evinced beguiling modal hues
and expression, while 'Passion' from Images No 6 evoked both Liszt and Ravel in its
bravura textures and translucent harmonies. Da Silva's music would appear to be an ideal
target for rediscovery.
Nancy Lee Harper
The recital was crowned in pyrotechnical excitement with music by de Falla, whose work
is the subject of two recent books by Nancy Lee Harper (Greenwood Press and Scarecrow Press).
The Fantasia boetica, so-called after the Roman term for Spain, exploded in wild
Iberian energy evoked in turn through brusque chordal textures, glistening glissandi and
richly ornamented melodies enveloped in suitably guitar-like flamenco effects of repeated notes
and cross hands passages. The swirling syncopations of the encore, de Falla's
Ritual Fire Dance, brought the recital to a splendid close, affirming the artistry of a
pianist boldly attuned to the Iberian inspiration of a repertoire that well rewards the hearing.