Vianna Da Motta

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COMPOSERS: Vianna Da Motta
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A; Ballada, Op. 16; Fantasia dramática
PERFORMER: Artur Pizarro (piano); Gulbenkian Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67163
José Vianna da Motta was considered one of the finest pianists of his time and became the sort of dominant musical figure in Portugal that Dohnányi was in Hungary – as teacher, conductor and composer as well as administrator. Artur Pizarro was a pupil of Sequeira Costa, one of Vianna da Motta’s pupils, so he carries on a tradition.

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Pizarro actually gave the first performance of the Concerto the day before this recording was made, and resurrected the Fantasia, which had no performances after the composer played it in 1893. The Concerto is an odd work, since it has only two movements, the first with passages of grandiloquence between a rather low-profile beginning and ending, and the second a set of variations which don’t really accumulate. The 18-year-old’s writing for both soloist and orchestra is decidedly stiff.

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By the time he wrote the Fantasia a few years later, he had obviously acquired some technical fluency, though the music is no more individual and the finale is a damp squib after the excitement of the first movement and charm of the central Andante. Between these two works, the Ballada for solo piano allows Pizarro to enjoy more poetic and contemplative moments. Adrian Jack