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David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2015

During the past thirty years the Portugese composer, António Pinho Vargas, has journeyed through a wide range of music from jazz and film scores to the classics. Industrious as a pianist, where his performing life began, he has created a sizable portfolio of compositions, including four operas, ten orchestral works and a number of chamber works. This new release principally offers recordings of song cycles that begin in 1994, and stretch through to the present century. Stylistically his songs turn the clock back to the later part of the 19th century, and at times even further, though the piano accompaniments acknowledge that music has changed since then. If his choice of poems leaves the listener pondering on their inner meaning, they are set to highly attractive music. It all seems strange when we turn to his string sextets, Nocturno and Diurno, composed in 1994, which are very much of their time in the use the building blocks to create atonality in a way that offers the listener a readily rewarding experience. Pinho Vargas has been much involved in music education at university level, and his programme notes will be best understood by his composition pupils. As for the performances, which were all recorded fifteen years ago, the intrinsic beauty of tone and easy projection of the Portuguese tenor, Rui Taveira, in the Nove Cancoes de Antonio Ramos Rosa, is most pleasing, while Paulo Ferreira’s lightweight baritone points to the words of the Sete Cancoes de Albano Martins, both singers partnered by the pianist, Jaime Mota. It was members of the Northern Sinfonia—not the Royal Northern Sinfonia as stated in the literature—who recorded the Nocturno and Diurno as if it were part of their standard repertoire, and as the composer has been involved in much of the recording, it will come with his stamp of approval. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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