JOLY BRAGA SANTOS (1924-1988): Alfama - Ballet Suite, Variations for Orchestra, 3 Symphonic Sketches, Symphonic Overture No. 3, Elegy in memory of Vianna da Motta.
Catalogue Number: 01N010
Description: Continuing their series with other-than-symphony pieces in Braga Santos' œuvre, this 72-minute program divides easily into three early and two late works. The Elegy (1948) and Symphonic Overture (a 14-minute work in Alentejo folk-style but originally composed music which has more than a whiff of 1940s wide-open-spaces Americana about it too) of 1954 have presumably been recorded before. But the 24-minute suite from the ballet Alfama (an Arab neighborhood of medieval Lisbon) receives its World Premiere Recording. Conductor Cassuto discovered it only in 2009 when the composer's manuscripts were deposited in the National Library. His wife told Cassuto that Braga Santos "only did it for money" and didn't want it considered part of his official compositions. Cassuto provided the suite here and the music is broadly melodic, big-boned, brash, colorful and rhythmically dynamic. Also a World Premiere is one of the two late works - the 1976 Variations, which make use of tone clusters and Klangfarben ideas which Braga Santos began to absorb from Darmstadt circles in the 1960s; still colorful and hardly difficult to appreciate. The Sketches of 1962 are virtuosically colorful and full of supercharged rhythmic energy, barely on the edge of the beginning of the composer's stylistic shift. Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Álvaro Cassuto.