> Manuel Faria - Images of my land [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Manuel FARIA (1916-1983)
Imagens da Minha Terra - Images of My Land (1959) [23.53]
Triptíco Litúrgico (1968) [18.04]
Ditirambo (1973) [11.11]
Suite Minhota (1956) [18.30]
Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional
cond Frederico de Freitas (all except Ditirambo); Silva Pereira (Ditirambo)
rec: all live recordings - Estúdio A da ENR 15 July 1966 (Imagens); 12 Aug 1960 (Minho); Cinema Tivoli, 9 Nov 1968 (Triptico); 15 Dec 1973 (Ditirambo)



Enlightened governmental funding decisions mean that Portugal continues, through this abundant Strauss series, to place its country's music on the international stage. If I recall correctly you can now get these discs from Seaford Music as well as direct from Strauss.

Faria, a priest in the Roman Catholic church, as well as a composer, can best be thought of as an exponent of moderate dissonance. This is applied to the sort of nationalism we find in de Freitas, a dash of Stravinsky's Petrushka and Sacre and a side salad of Ravel's Rapsodie Espagnole.

The Imagens da Minha Terra are a honey-salted updating of the folksy impressionism we find in the Alentejo Suites. Also present is the abrasive neo-classicism of Ruy de Coelho as in the Ronda of Imagens. The performance sounds strong and well-drilled.

Nine years on and we come to the Liturgical Triptych which proceeds (with the dubious benefit of coughs from the audience) from the same foggy threat as the Alvorada movement of Imagens. The Meditaçâo glistens with dewy precipitation like the damp and mossy wychwoods we know from Frank Bridge's There is a Willow. I doubt that the effect of Faria's meeting with Petrassi was quite as much of an axle as the notes infer although I grant you that the finale of the Triptych is gritty. It is however less so than the uncompromising Lutyens-like essay that is the Ditirambo written for Frederico de Freitas's seventieth birthday. This scarifying single movement flushes and protests like the more dissonant elements of Panufnik's Tragic Overture and with a coincidental flavour of the percussive recoil of William Schuman's dynamism.

The Suite Minha is the earliest piece on the disc. A rural stomping dance Malhão and a proudly Iberian Vira, frame a glistening movement entitled No alto daquela serra (At the top of the mountain).

The notes are by César Viana in both Portuguese and English. The quality of the English translation has improved this time. There are fewer typos than we have seen in previous issues.

This is music at the picturesque yet challenging confluence of impressionism, folk character and dissonance.

The recordings from Radiodifusão Portuguesa are respectable if unsubtle.

Rob Barnett


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