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Luís de FREITAS BRANCO (1890-1955)
Violin Sonata no.1 (1907) [24:03]
Violin Sonata no.2 (1938) [23:39]
Prelude, for violin and piano (1910) [3:35]
Carlos Damas (violin)
Anna Tomasik (piano)
rec. Namouche Studios, Lisbon, 15 December 2009; 25 January 2010 [Sonata no.1]. DDD
NAXOS 8.572334 [51:18]

Experience Classicsonline

This is the fifth Naxos CD devoted to the music of Portuguese composer Luís de Freitas Branco, following four volumes of the complete symphonies, from the first in 2008 to the last, released at the end of last year. Reviews of all four discs, and another opinion of this latest release can be had here.

Freitas Branco did not write a lot of chamber music, and this disc appears to contain all his works for the combination of violin and piano. His remaining Cello Sonata and String Quartet will doubtless appear on a subsequent release.

In the First Violin Sonata Debussy meets Franck. Written when Freitas Branco was still in his mid-teens, this is a dreamy, sure-footed work characterised by the violin's high tessitura. The Second Sonata, written three decades later, is understandably a little more serious, interwar ambiguity and a little nostalgia having replaced the youthful confidence. It is also more classically structured and textured, with lilting melody and gentle harmony in abundance, and again a frequently soaring tessitura. There is nothing in either work that is obviously Portuguese in origin, but both Sonatas are deeply lyrical - as is the little Prelude, which might have been better placed between the two Sonatas, creating a musical interlude at the same time as maintaining chronology.

This is the debut recording for Naxos of Portuguese violinist Carlos Damas and Polish pianist Anna Tomasik, herself long since based in Portugal. Their performances here are impressively expressive and delicate, even if Damas sometimes omits a certain amount of shading.

Sound quality is very good, although there is an amount of reverberation that many may find excessive - presumably added digitally, as the recording took place in a studio and the piano sounds relatively unaffected. Ivan Moody's booklet notes are interesting, if sometimes digressive; they also contain a misprint of the dates of both Sonatas, moving one on to 1910 and the other back to 1928. Naxos are frequently generous with running times, but not on this occasion.

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