Friday, October 04, 2013

CCC 089 - Sérgio Azevedo

This week's entry in the  Consonant Classical Challenge features Sérgio Azevedo, a Portuguese composer and educator. And its perhaps of his latter role that his music is written in a clear, straightforward fashion.  Portuguese folk traditions are a part of Azevedo's musical language, giving his works a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from similar compositions from Northern Europe.

Azevedo's works are tonally based, but he doesn't shy away from dissonance. As a result, his music has a dynamic, expressive feel to it. And because its tonally based, the listener can very quickly assimilate the context of the work and more immediately experience the emotional content.

Azevedo's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is a large-scale work that takes the traditional three-movement concerto form as its starting point. The first movement brims with energy and good spirits. The second slows down the pace, it's open dissonances creating an atmosphere of mystery. But the clouds clear for the last movement, which races to the finale with a jaunty bounce (and a hint of jazz).


Six pieces for guitar shows Azevedo's use of folk traditions. The playing style is Portuguese, the melodic material entirely original. The result is a refreshing alternative to the Spanish and Latin American influences that dominate the modern classical guitar repertoire.

The Piano Sonatina No. 2 provides insight into Azevedo's style. This modest work lays bare Azevdo's harmonies and structural organization.


Azevedo is an educator, and a good portion of his compositional output are for student ensembles. Music for Schools II: March is one such work. Although it's fairly simple and flexible in its instrumentation, the March is nevertheless a well-written composition.


Sérgio Azevedo has a great reputation in his native Portugal, although still relatively unknown in America. I think his music would connect with American audiences -- even somewhat staid ones. Here's hoping we have an opportunity soon.

Recommended Recordings

Musica Contemporanea Portuguesa (Contemporary Portuguese Music)

Nuno Pinto - Clarinete Solo

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