LUÍS DE FREITAS BRANCO (1890-1955): Orchestral Works, Vol. 4 - Symphony No. 4, Vathek.
Catalogue Number: 01M002
Description: The last of this Portuguese composer's symphonies (1944-52) is his most accomplished and most satisfying. Based on Gregorian chant motifs, it combines neo-classicism and late romanticism in a compelling way and seems much shorter than its 42 minutes (always a good sign); its scherzo's vivacity, while not exactly sounding like Glazunov, makes you think of that Russian composer's amazing touch in scherzos. At the other end of the composer's career, his 34-minute tone poem Vathek, based on the 18th century Gothic romance by William Beckford. An elaborate theme-and-variations structure depicts five luxurious palaces built by the eponymous caliph with multi-hued "oriental" music, from sinuous to savage with a startling two-minute third variation (depicting a palace devoted to rare art) which is possibly more atonal than anything else written at the time (1913). The work was not performed until 1950 and the atonal variation not until 1961. RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; Álvaro Cassuto.