, January 2002
"This latest installment in Marco Polo's fine ongoing survey of the orchestral works of Portuguese composer Joly Braga Santos features some interesting music from his later, more dissonant period. The Sinfonietta for Strings (1963) shows the composer in transition, his earlier Romantic modal style rubbing shoulders with the spikier idiom to come. It's a combination that produced some of Braga Santos' most appealing music (including the gorgeous Divertimento No. 1 that hopefully will come along shortly), and Alvaro Cossuto leads the Northern Sinfonia in a trenchant, rhythmically vital performance that should win the work many friends.
The Variations Concertantes for Strings and Harp (1967), despite the potentially enticing medium employed, is a very dense, harmonically acerbic piece that doesn't yield its secrets easily despite some fascinating textural gestures. But the Concerto for Violin, Cello, Strings, and Harp (1968) arrives at a Bartokian synthesis of folk and modernist elements that, while still challenging, offers ample rewards on repeated listening."