CLÁUDIO SANTORO (1919-1989) - Symphonies Nos. 11 & 12, Concerto Grosso, Three Fragments on BACH. Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra – Neil Thomson
Catalogue Number: 11Y030
Description: Volume 2 of this immensely valuable ongoing series (see 03X001) brings us works from his remarkably productive final decade, in which he achieved a powerfully expressive idiom with an accessible foundation in tonality while synthesising a tough, sinewy individuality of vocabulary from elements of the various styles with which he had experimented earlier in his career. His cycle of 14 symphonies is justly regarded as the most significant to have emanated from Brazil. The 11th Symphony (1984) is a compact three-movement work, with a tense, expectant introduction that gives way to a trenchant, combative allegro first subject. The atmosphere of the opening is recalled in a kind of slow and melancholy second subject, which eventually takes over the mood of the movement. The middle movement is a motoric scherzo, reminiscent of Prokofiev, with a puppet-military air. The finale begins with a brooding chromatic introduction, interrupted by strident fanfares that announce a powerful conflict between the principal elements of the preceding movements, which climaxes in a thunderous reminiscence of the beginning of Brahms' First Symphony - not a coincidence; Santoro completed his work in the Brahms House in Baden-Baden, Germany. A surprisingly full and complex (given its relative brevity) battlefield sequence crowned with dissonant fanfares ends the symphony. Symphony No.12 began life as a set of 15 Fantasias for solo instruments, written as competition pieces, with optional orchestral accompaniments. The composer then reworked these into a Fantasia concertante, and then into a substantial three-movement symphony, with different combinations of soloists in each movement and a greatly expanded rôle for the orchestra. The first movement is enigmatic and brooding, beginning with a section for two string soloists, then a more peaceful, though still serious and weighty one for two winds, and ending with a darkly passionate episode with viola solo. The trumpet is the soloist in the central movement, playing fanfares and flourishes in a rather military mood, which soon establishes itself as a brisk march. A playful oboe solo begins the finale, and then the same soloist presides over an extended lyrical episode. The horn joins in, continuing the restrained, melancholy mood, and gradually picking up the pace to introduce the more assertive voice of the trombone, which borrows material from the horn and concludes the symphony with surging energy. The Three Fragments treat the most fertile four-note motif in all music first in a solemn elegy followed by a vigorous fugue, then in a heavy, aphotic lament, and finally a lively, rather abrasive toccata. In all three movements the motif is presented in transposition, inversion, and retrograde, in addition to its original form. The earliest work here is the 1980 Concerto grosso for string quartet and string orchestra. The first movement is sinewy and trenchantly abrasive, with some limited use of clusters and aleatoric accompaniments comprising ostinato-like gestures repeated with free co-ordination, recalling Santoro's more experimental earlier works. In the slow movement the four soloists enter in succession with a sad, lyrical theme. A brief agitated climax in accumulating clusters interrupts the flow of the music, before a return to the sorrowful opening material. The final movement is propulsively rhythmic, punctuated by stabbing chords. A muted central episode over a rustling, insectoid aleatoric accompaniment gives way to a dynamically thrusting conclusion.