> SANTOS Symphonies 1 & 2 SP4048 [RB]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Joly BRAGA SANTOS (1924-1988)

Symphony No. 1 (1947)
Symphonic Overture No. 3 (1954?)
Hungarian State SO/Mátyas Antal
rec 7-10 Aug 1989, Italian Institute, Budapest

All Portugalsom CDs are available at an extremely attractive price and this offsets the shortish playing time. Rare and often extremely fine repertoire will be the reason for seeking out these discs. The Portuguese government has done wonders for their nation's music by sponsoring a very ambitious series of recording and we are the beneficiaries. Without them would we ever have heard of Lopes-Graca, Freitas Branco, Freitas or Braga Santos?

Braga Santos's First Symphony is in three big movements playing for almost three quarters of an hour. The symphony which dates from 1947 is dedicated 'to the heroes and martyrs of the last world war.' Its voices are not latino. Instead there are unnerving resonances with the symphonies of Vaughan Williams (12.35 in the first movement), with Tchaikovsky (especially the mournful Slav tension of the Fifth Symphony), with Bruckner, with Jon Leifs (listen to those brass and percussion impacts at the end of the first movement) and with Rachmaninov (1.38 in the finale).

I know of three recordings of the work. There is a mono disc in distressed sound of Pedro de Freitas Branco conducting a historic performance from the 1950s and there is Alvaro Cassuto's Marco Polo disc. Antal's Hungarian version is the most gripping of the three and if this is the result of spending four days in the studio then others should try it. Sound quality is superb - depth, plushness of string tone, biting brass. If you know your versions of the Moeran Symphony you can think of Cassuto as the Handley version, Freitas as Heward and Antal as Boult in the still wonderful sounding Lyrita LP version.

As a bonus there is the third of three symphonic overtures. This is rustically Sibelian, folksy, smiling and with the skipping smiling energy of the Fourth Symphony - also not to be missed on this label (and reviewed on this site). The tension and excitement undeniably radiated from Antal's interpretation of the symphony carries over faithfully into the overture.

The best version available of the First Symphony. This is a work that anyone who loves his Sibelius, Moeran or Vaughan Williams must hear. After the Fourth Symphony disc this is the disc to make converts to the world of Joly Braga Santos and to make him a household name in Berlin, Chicago, Stockholm, London, Moscow and New York. This is a sheerly lovely disc.

Rob Barnett


The prices remain the same but not the transport costs:
For UK --- £6 per CD

Freight --- till 3 CDs --- not registered --- £2.40; registered---- £3.50

For USA --$ 10 per CD
Freight --till 3 CDs -- not registered ---$5; registered ---- $6.80

Portusom accept Visa or American Express

Orders: for the attention of Eduarda Martins
by fax to the nş 351 21 7142353
By mail to:
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1500-023 LISBOA

by e-mail info@strauss.pt

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