Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Symphony No. 2 (1947) [48.30]
Crossroads (ballet in one act) (1967) [16.53]
Bournemouth SO/Alvaro Cassuto
rec Bournemouth 1-2 August 2000
MARCO POLO 8.225216 [65.23]

Braga Santos, the Portuguese composer, wrote his first four symphonies between the ages of 22 and 27. The Fourth is one of those works (Louis Glass's Fifth Symphony is another) of such irresistible new-minted and immarescible freshness that its omission from concert and radio lists beggars belief. A copy of the Fourth can be ordered from Portugal by e-mail (just drop a line to

Marco Polo have already recorded Symphony No 3 (1949) and Symphony No 6 (1972) on 8.225087 and Symphony No 1 (1946) and Symphony No 5 Virtus Lusitaniae (1965-66) on 8.223879. These recordings and those from the Portugalsom company present a fairly full picture of this composer. The omission (until now) has been the seecond symphony. Cassuto remains the conductor as on the previous discs but here he abandons his Portuguese SO and joins creative forces with the Bournemouth SO. The Second Symphony turns out to be out of the same style as the First and Fourth Symphonies. The first movement bounds with Brucknerian energy, tense, exciting, tuneful. The Adagio singingly yearns with the very best touched with the wand of Vaughan Williams succeeded by a Moeran-like pastorale touched with elements of Vaughan Williams Fifth Symphony. The life-giving influence of the folk music of the Alentejo glows through the pages of this work cross-bred with Bruckner, Kurt Weill (his brand of jerky symphonism), Debussy and Kodaly. The Bournemouth orchestra give an accomplished account as they also do of the ballet music. Crossroads was a Gulbenkian commission first performed in Lisbon in 1967 after his studies with Scherchen and Mortari signalled the insurgence of avant-garde voices (1960 onwards). However the music emerges unscathed by rebarbative 'modernity' yet far from anodyne. The five movements breathe in accents from Ravel's Rhapsodie Espagnole, Stravinsky's Rite, Canteloube's Auvergne songs, the Alentejo suites of de Freitas Branco. The usual good notes from the conductor.

Roll on the Marco Polo version of the Fourth Symphony. Until then enjoy this disc which (after the Fourth Symphony) is the one to start with if you decide you would like to try Braga Santos.

Rob Barnett

See multiple review of other Braga Santos recordings

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