Thursday, March 10, 2011

Freitas Branco, a Portuguese anachronism

A surprise discovery as a souvenir from our days in Portugal last October. I picked up a Naxos CD with the third symphony of local composer Luis de Freitas Branco (1890-1955), and when I listened to it at home I was stunned by its quality. I quickly ordered the other 3 CD's as well, to have his four symphonies and some interesting other orchestral works. His style may be slightly anachronistic (the fourth symphony was written in 1952, but sounds much earlier), but still well worth exploring. The 1924 first symphony, coupled with two shorter orchestral works (the early impressionist Scherzo Fantastique and the nationalist Alentejo Suite), is perhaps the best introduction to his work, but all four are highly recommended. Great playing by the neighboring RTE National Symphony Orchestra under Cassutto.