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Ray Picot
ILAMS – The Iberian and Latin American Music Society, August 2019

The pianist Luísa Tender may not be familiar to many readers, but if this recording is your first encounter, like me I am sure you will be very impressed. She may be a young pianist, with a formidable technique but this is never used at the expense of expression… This complete survey of all the solo piano sonatas by the Portuguese composer, João Domingos Bomtempo (1775-1842) is Ms Tender’s second commercial recording, covering the extant sonatas in chronological order.

From the opening bars of the first piano sonata…I was struck by Luísa Tender’s fresh and clear eyed approach to the music, avoiding over indulgence in the delicious opening theme, moving the music on with discreet virtuosity. Afterall this was the young composer’s first sonata, which he would have played in public, determined to make an impact.

The natural balance of the piano helps make this one of the most enjoyable piano recordings I have heard in a while. There is a wide dynamic range to the recording, from the delicately nuanced passages to those moments of barnstorming virtuosity, all perfectly captured.

It would be wrong not to mention previous recordings, many of which I have heard. For now I can give a warm recommendation to Luísa Tender’s life-affirming performances. © 2019 ILAMS – The Iberian and Latin American Music Society Read complete review



Records International, July 2019

Eleven piano sonatas by the “Portuguese Mozart”, showing a diverse range of influences from Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven but containing many original features, not least incendiary scalar passages and dramatic hand crossings. Full of lyricism, counterpoint and often exceptional virtuosity, these features reach a peak in the monumental Op. 20. © 2019 Records International



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2019

Joao Domingos Bomtempo was born into a Portuguese musical family in 1775, but spent many of his early years as a pianist and composer while in Paris and London. It was during that period that he composed twelve piano sonatas, the original manuscripts having been lost, eleven were reprinted from copies in 1980. At that time a number were found to contain an optional violin part, though in the case of the Third of Opus 9, it includes a violin part fully written out and of such importance to the music, the pianist Luisa Tender takes the view that it was probably intended as a Violin Sonata, and has omitted it from her complete survey. To place his life in a date context, he was, approximately, contemporary to Beethoven, his younger years coming at the close of the Mozart era. So, unsurprisingly, Bomtempo’s opus 1 followed in his style, only extending to two short movements. Exact dates of composition are then open to speculation, but there was a quantum leap forward for the four-movement opus 5 score, and we are heading towards the early works of Haydn. In naming such illustrious composers, do not let me lead you to think his output was of a major magnitude, but it is very likeable and well worth exploring. As we continue through the discs, so we see his development with a more adventurous harmonic language in the first of his opus 9 Sonatas. Titled ‘An Easy Sonata’ his opus 13 was probably written as a work for his students, though it is not all that easy. The two opus 15 are very attractive, the finale of the Second having a dance-like character that is charming. We tend to go backward in style for the three opus 18—all in three movements—which could well have been composed by any talented kapellmeister of that era. Then the surprise comes with the final work in F flat major. With a playing time almost as long as the whole of the three opus 18, its three movements are technically quite challenging, and possess an imposing character that comes in line with early Beethoven. Throughout Bomtempo is well served by the Portuguese pianist Luisa Tender, her student days taking her to Los Angeles, London and Paris before embarking on an international career. She offers the utmost clarity with nimble fingers when required, and throughout she conveys her affection for the composer. Tender also contributes the sleeve notes that are most illuminating having researched the composer in depth. The sound quality is in keeping with her unfussy performances. © 2019 David’s Review Corner





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