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
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
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.