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Fernandes, Freitas Branco / Da Costa, Amigo, Et Al


Release Date: 01/29/2008 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 2578   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Armando José FernandesLuís de Freitas Branco
Performer:  Alexandre Da Costa
Conductor:  Jesus Amigo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Extremadura
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Luís de Freitas Branco's Second Symphony (1926) is an elegant, melodically appealing work in which we can clearly hear the influence of Franck yielding to a more modal melodic style contemporaneous to that of Vaughan Williams and Respighi. You can hear the latter in the work's Gregorian chant-like motto theme, and the former in the first movement's second subject and the entire slow movement, whose shape obviously recalls that in Franck's Symphony in D minor. Nevertheless, Freitas Branco finds room for a full-length scherzo, and while his scoring tends to favor the violins and nowhere approaches the adventurousness of his tone poem Vahtek, this is by any standard a very pleasant 42 minutes of listening.

The performance
Read more is a very good one, and so are the sonics. There is competition--a Hungarian recording released on Portugal's own Strauss label--but it's highly doubtful that you will ever be able to find it, and in any event this newcomer is better played and better recorded. I could imagine a touch more rhythmic edge in the outer movements, but this is predominantly gentle music anyway, and given the work's unfamiliarity, conductor Jesús Amigo makes a very positive impression.

And speaking of unfamiliarity, Armando Fernandes' Violin Concerto (1948) is completely unknown, at least outside of Portugal, but it's not as fine a work as the Symphony. Although not entirely conventional (it has four movements instead of the usual three), and lacking a memorable melodic profile, Alexandre da Costa plays it with conviction, albeit with a somewhat square rhythmic treatment. Still, for the symphony alone this certainly is a recommendable release.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Violin by Armando José Fernandes
Performer:  Alexandre Da Costa (Violin)
Conductor:  Jesus Amigo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Extremadura
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Portugal 
Length: 31 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Portugal (1947 - 1948). 
2. Symphony no 2 by Luís de Freitas Branco
Performer:  Alexandre Da Costa (Violin)
Conductor:  Jesus Amigo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Extremadura
Written: 1926 
Length: 42 Minutes 29 Secs. 

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