Classical The best music site on the web there is where you can read about and listen to blues, jazz, classical music and much more. This is your ultimate music resource. Tons of albums can be found within. Wed, 01 Dec 2021 13:19:40 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Braga Santos - Symphony No.5, op.39 ‘Virtus Lusitaniae’ (Silva Pereira) [1995] Braga Santos - Symphony No.5, op.39 ‘Virtus Lusitaniae’ (Silva Pereira) [1995]

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01. I - Preludio    [0:10:42.47]
02. II - Zavala (Scherzo)    [0:04:35.60]
03. III - Largo    [0:10:26.03]
04. IV - Allegro energico ed appassionato    [0:07:33.15]

RDP Symphony Orchestra
Silva Pereira – conductor


The fifth symphony dates from 1966 and the composer's late period, when he employed modern techniques such as tone-clusters and masses of mysteriously floating sound. Subtitled Virtus Lusitaniae, it uses a massive percussion section in its very original scherzo which evokes native Mozambiquan music. Its freely expressive and compelling use of orchestral color will have you thinking now of Messiaen, now of Respighi, now of ...? ---

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]]> (bluesever) Braga Santos Joly Tue, 10 May 2016 16:07:33 +0000
Joly Braga Santos - Cello concerto Divertimenti (2003) Joly Braga Santos - Cello concerto Divertimenti (2003)

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1.   		Staccato Brilhante 00:02:20
2.   		Nocturno for Strings 00:06:54

Divertimento No. 1
3.   		I. Preludio 00:07:31
4.   		II. Intermezzo 00:05:06
5.   		III. Finale 00:08:25

Divertimento No. 2
6.   		I. Largamente 00:08:26
7.   		II. Allegro vivace 00:04:52

Cello Concerto
8.   		Moderato 00:06:38
9.   		Allegro 00:07:02
10.   		Andante 00:09:17

Jan Bastiaan Neven - cello
Algarve Orchestra
Álvaro Cassuto – conductor


I owe a great deal to Walter Wells and Mark Lehman for introducing me to so much fine neglected music. In the 1980s parcels of cassettes winged their way back and forward between various places in the USA and Saltash in Cornwall just over the Tamar Bridge from Plymouth.

Among those parcels was a tape of Braga Santos's Fourth Symphony. I was immediately enthralled by Santos's fine, epic, open-air symphonism. Indulged further by Portugalsom in the early days of this site I reviewed many other Braga Santos discs. Later Marco Polo trounced the marketplace with their Alvaro Cassuto series of which this is the latest volley. Can there be anyone who, as conductor, knows Braga Santos's music as well as Cassuto. He was also the conductor on a number of the Portugalsom series discs and must stand in relation to Braga Santos as Beecham stands to Delius; Bernstein to Schuman, Handley to Bax.

Of the Six Symphonies the first four are melodic-tonal, echoing with styles others will link with Moeran, RVW, Bruckner and Tchaikovsky. The final two symphonies are tough and dissonant. With that backdrop I wondered what the Staccato from 1988 would be like. In fact it is personable, tuneful, flighty without being trivial in mood, brief of course, abounding in chattering activity but with some braw rhythmic work for the brass and a typically euphonious heart-easing melody at 1.30. The Nocturno is grave and melancholy with a solo viola curving out of the steady trudge with which the work opens. It recalls Howells' Elegy and the sweeter elegiac moments from the Miaskovsky symphonies. The Divertimento No. 1 is for full orchestra. It has three movements and we are told is one of the composer's few works based on Portuguese folklore. It certainly doesn’t show in any potpourri way - at least not in the first movement. The Preludio starts with the same steady trudge as the Nocturno, with the accent on the strings (which in the case of the Algarve Orchestra are here not as succulent as they might be). By the time we get to 2.45 we realise that we are in for another of the composer's trademark melodies. These abound in open air virtue and the freshness of a cool and dazzling morning. The Intermezzo second movement might well have us thinking of Lincolnshire folksongs à la RVW - very close in style. The Finale takes us back to touching melodies of a type similar to the tune that sings out at the peak of Vaughan Williams' Wasps Overture.

The Second Divertimento is definitely tougher - music of haunting and disillusion with a prominent role for string solos. This is music with a souring edge rising to ruthlessness and a cauldron of atonal discontent. Voices paralleling those from Waxman's Concerto for Strings, from Le Sacre and from Rawsthorne can be heard.

The Cello Concerto is in three movements calling out soulfully in discontent, in tension, in anger, fearfully teetering on the edge of the abyss. The concerto does not look back to the music of the first four symphonies. This is certainly not a companion to the Moeran Cello Concerto. The linkages belong more naturally to Boris Tchaikovsky, to Rawsthorne, to Sallinen and to Shostakovich (try the central movement). It is played with grave reverence by the principal cello of the Algarve Orchestra, Jan Bastiaan Neven. The work ends in ambivalent stillness with the muttering of an uncertain heartbeat.

The whole package is definitively supported by Alvaro Cassuto's programme notes. He writes with engaging frankness. Of the Concerto he writes: "It is the kind of work where the music speaks for itself, and trying to write about it I feel completely lost."

This is a disc for those already sympathetic to the mix of styles you get in juxtaposing symphonies 1 and 5 : 3 and 6. The earlier melodic-nationalism jostles elbows with the later tougher dissonance - not that Braga Santos ever loses complete touch with the long line. ---Rob Barnett,

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]]> (bluesever) Braga Santos Joly Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:08:09 +0000
Joly Braga Santos – Symphony No.4 Symphonic Variations (2002) Joly Braga Santos – Symphony No.4 Symphonic Variations (2002)

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1. Symphonic Variations on a popular song from the Alentejo
2. Symphony No. 4: Lento
3. Symphony No. 4: Andante
4. Symphony No. 4: Allegro tranquillo
5. Symphony No. 4: Lento

National Symphony Orchestra
Alvaro Cassuto – conductor

Braga Santos (1924-1988) spent the early part of his musical career studying under a Portuguese composer of the previous generation, Luis de Freitas Branco, who would appear to have influenced all of Braga Santos's compositions through and including the 4th Symphony, all of which were written while he was still in his 20s. (The excellent booklet notes, by Álvaro Cassuto, the conductor for this Marco Polo series and clearly the principal champion of the music of Braga Santos, go on to state that Braga Santos subsequently studied with Herman Scherchen and Virgilio Motari, and that his later works reflected a more avant-garde compositional style, something that I have yet to look forward to.) Despite his Iberian roots, there is little in his music that brings to mind a characteristically Iberian style (say, that of Manuel de Falla). Instead, there is a more "international" flavor to these works, including some fairly obvious similarities with a number of better-known composers: Bax, Bruckner, Hanson, Nielsen, Ravel, Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams come to mind at various points throughout the 4th Symphony, and the Symphonic Variations have their Ravelian and Respighian touches as well.

The symphony (Braga Santos's longest, at some 53 minutes), is in four rather evenly divided movements, save for the last movement, which concludes with a stirring epilogue in the form of a chorale that largely accounts for its greater length. Each of the movements is full of good tunes, incorporated with real craftsmanship and a high regard for orchestral color. One can hear the ravishing lushness of Ravel, the motivic cells of Sibelius (even successfully combined with the Ravel touches in several places), brilliant splashes of orchestra color that readily remind one of Respighi, frequently modal writing reminiscent of Vaughan Williams, side drum tattoos that bring Nielsen to mind, and so forth. The epilogue-in-the-form-of-a-chorale that concludes the work does so on a very high note; with its use of timpani ostinato and a chorale theme that is of a definitely "Romantic yearning" bent, it reminds me in most respects of the final-movement coda to Hanson's "Romantic" Symphony, even to its brilliant modulations in the closing bars.

What is exceedingly difficult to put into words is the fact that all of this works, and works brilliantly, without seeming obvious or "pastiche-like." Each movement is a fully-developed entity having its own themes (and ear-catching tunes), with its own immediate appeal, yet the four movements fit together with perfect logic. Tis a puzzlement that this work has labored pretty much in obscurity for a half-century, for it is a "can't fail" audience-pleaser that need make no apologies.

The "Symphonic Variations" (which is the opening track on the disc) is, according to the booklet notes, based on a popular song from the Alentejo region of southern Portugal. It is a catchy tune, even a pretty one, where the "theme and variation" idea is utilized as a formal device for displaying the virtuoso and coloristic capabilities of the orchestra; a "Concerto for Orchestra" without actually being one, so to say. The work is "of a piece" with the 4th Symphony in terms of its obvious craft and its immediate - and seemingly lasting - appeal.

This last point deserves a small bit of additional commentary. Seldom, when listening to something totally new to me, do I latch on to it as I seem to have with these two Braga Santos works. My music library is literally littered with roadkill, stuff I gave a try to that in the end just didn't make an impression on me. Not so for these works; each time I listen to them (and it's been a few times already, just for purpose of putting these thoughts together), I find something new to appreciate in what Braga Santos has crafted.

Marco Polo has done us an outstanding service by committing to disc a major portion of Braga Santos's symphonic output (including all of his symphonies), under the direction of Cassuto. The National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland is a fine group that does justice to both these works, and the sound is excellent.

This is truly a composer who deserves to be "rescued from obscurity," and Cassuto and Marco Polo have done themselves proud in their efforts. I hope to have the opportunity to hear a Braga Santos work performed "live" some day, now that all this "heavy lifting" by Cassuto and Marco Polo has brought his works before the listening public. ---Bob Zeidler,

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]]> (bluesever) Braga Santos Joly Mon, 01 Aug 2011 18:49:50 +0000