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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    IBERIAN DISCOVERY

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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 finale.

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
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.

Copyright © 7 October 2003 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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NANCY LEE HARPER - AN AMERICAN IN PORTUGAL

BEETHOVEN PIANO SOCIETY OF EUROPE

ST JAMES' CHURCH PICCADILLY

ST JAMES' PICCADILLY CONCERTS

HARPER'S 'MANUEL DE FALLA : A BIO-BIBLIOGRAPHY' AT AMAZON.COM

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