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Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, February 2014

This disc is the second one entirely devoted to Lopes-Graça’s music released by Naxos…Both give cause for reassessment of Lopes-Graça’s achievement which should definitely not be overlooked. It is to be hoped that this Naxos CD will encourage further recordings of this never indifferent music.

As far as I can judge these performances are very fine, strongly committed and well recorded. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, November 2013

Instrumental performances overall are first-rate, most notably the impeccable style of pianist Eldar Nebolsin, whose soloing and inspired accompaniment has an appeal that’s hard to beat. Top notch. © 2013 Scene Magazine Read complete review

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, November 2013

…[this] Naxos issue…is warmly recorded and given with appropriate dash and sparkle. Nebolsin, a Russian pianist based in Berlin, recorded the Liszt concertos and Dohnanyi’s Nursery Song Variations for Naxos to rave reviews, and deserves equal praise for his lively and sympathetic work in this virtually unknown music. The Portuguese orchestra shines under the distinguished baton of Bamert. All in all, this is a high-quality production. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Paul A. Snook
Fanfare, November 2013

Last year Naxos issued the first modern recording of the sole symphony by Portugal’s outstanding equivalent to Spain’s Manuel de Falla, the meticulous and sophisticated nationalist Fernando Lopes-Graça (1906–1994). Now we have these two splendid piano concertos (only the first is technically a premiere recording), written over 30 years apart and showing the full spectrum of his stylistic evolution. © 2013 Fanfare

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, September 2013

Lopes-Graça’s curious blend of European, indigenous and Mediterranean influences makes for evocative music, both cinematic and colorful, charged with a vitality that transcends intellect. Under the capable guidance of conductor Matthias Bamert, pianist Eldar Nebolsin brings precise phrasing and visceral intensity to his performance of both concertos, while the instrumentalists of the Orquestra Sinfonica do Porto—Casa da Musica match his passion admirably. Inspired and inspiring. © 2013 Scene Magazine Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, September 2013

National pride, melodic discernment, good humor, and a thorough knowledge of instrumentation mark Lopes-Graça’s music. His structures are traditional and easy to follow; these concertos are well worth your time. It would be hard to ask for a better performance, too. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Mary Kunz Goldman
The Buffalo News, August 2013

The concertos by Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graca…are flashy, virtuosic romps, a lot more fun to hear than a lot of things foisted on us. His orchestration is colorful and his ideas grab you and stick with you. The last movement of Concerto No. 1 sounds like a tango, with sharp rhythms and lots of creative snap and pop. Pianist Eldar Nebolsin handles the music clearly and precisely but with flair and fun. © 2013 The Buffalo News Read complete review

David Hurwitz, July 2013

…the music [is] really enjoyable, and it would be difficult to imagine a more effective presentation of the virtuosic solo parts than that offered by Eldar Nebolsin. He clearly has fun with the quick outer movements, and especially the finales, with their touches of rustic humor. The central slow movements, in contrast, are poetic and often exquisite.

The Porto orchestra plays very capably for the reliable Matthias Bamert…These works are a real find… © 2013 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2013

As Shostakovich felt persecuted by his Communist overlords, so it was affiliations with communism that brought problems for Lopes-Graça’s in Western Europe. Born in 1908, he had a successful career as a pianist, conductor and teacher, and became one of Portugal’s most prolific 20th century composers, though those achievements were compromised by his politics, and he fell foul of the musical establishment. He did pass through differing stylistic phases, though his music was always far away from the vanguard of contemporary music. The two piano concertos date from 1940 and 1950, and in both we find a master craftsman in creating interesting orchestral sound-colours spiced with unusual rhythms that embrace Portuguese folk influences. At times he inserts those ‘naughty harmonies’ and ‘wrong notes’ beloved of French composers in the early part of the century, the two combining in the quirky humour of the First concerto’s finale. Neither would be counted among showpiece virtuoso concertos, but there is plenty to tax technical expertise, particularly in the sombre aspects of the Second Concerto, with its brief Dies Irae reference, the climatic outbursts creating their own dissonance. Also in three contrasting movements, the gloom eventually lifts in a active finale. Now living in Spain, the Russian-born soloist, Eldar Nebolsin, continues his series of discs for Naxos, and seems perfectly attuned to the Lopes-Graça idiom, sweeping aside, almost too easily, the many difficulties. I am highly impressed by the Portuguese orchestra, conducted by the much travelled Matthias Bamert, and when you add the top quality sound, we have a highly desirable release of two very attractive scores. © David’s Review Corner

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