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John Sunier
Audiophile Audition, June 2002

"It's unfortunate we haven't heard more of his music on disc because both of these works are fully realized and very attractive tonal and lyrical masterworks. The composer was only 23 when he wrote his second symphony. It has highly emotional sections and a satisfying structure in its four movements. Santos said that he wanted to react against a tendency rejecting monumentalism in music, and the symphony certainly does have its monumental moments."

Walter Simmons
Fanfare, October 2001

"The work has the same passionate, driving forward-motion as its predecessor and successor, and with the same post-Romantic lyrical thrust...those listeners who enjoy the early symphonies will also enjoy Crossroads..."

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, June 2001

"Braga Santos's symphony cycle nears completion with his vivid, pastoral Second coupled with a lively ballet suite...Alvaro Cassuto's recordings of the symphonies by his former teacher, Joly Braga Santos, have been one of Marco Polo's most revealing recent projects, on a par in quality with that of Havergal Brian. The late Lionel Salter gave the previous installments in the cycle a warm welcome, which I would warmly endorse...The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra play as if they have known the works for years. Another winner."

David Hurwitz, March 2001

"Joly Braga Santos' Second Symphony, at 48 minutes, has all of the urgency and ambition of a young man's enthusiastic revelry in writing for a really large orchestra. The composer was all of 23 when he wrote it, and early or not, the piece sustains its length with little apparent effort. As usual in the first four symphonies, the influences of Vaughan Williams and Respighi aren't too far away, but that's all they are. There's no mistaking a tremendous individual talent at work here. Just listen to the gorgeous slow movement--melodically distinctive and magnificently scored (the evocative coda features a mysterious timpani duet under ethereal strings). Even the finale, a highly sectional amalgam of slow introduction, allegro, fugue, and slow epilogue leading to a grandiose conclusion, hangs together remarkably well, borne on the wings of the composer's unflagging inspiration. The coupling, a short ballet entitled Crossroads, takes Portuguese folk music as its source of inspiration, but belongs to the composer's later, spikier period. Marvelously scored for chamber orchestra, Santos' use of folk melodies and rhythms shows the same sort of naturalness and ease typical of Bartok in, say, the Dance Suite. In other words, the music's roots don't compromise its modernity. As with all the discs in this remarkable series, the composer's friend and colleague Alvaro Cassuto leads performances of great warmth, intensity, and color. He captures the quiet intimacy of the symphony's pastoral third movement as well as the epic bigness of vision of its climaxes. Under his baton, the Bournemouth Symphony plays with tremendous conviction and confidence, and the recorded sound is terrific. Don't miss this one!"

Calum MacDonald
BBC Music Magazine, March 2001

"Portugal's principal 20th-century symphonist exemplifies Anglo-Portuguese cultural fertilisation. Joly Braga Santos's big Second Symphony, written at the age of 23, is deeply imbued with Walton and especially RVW, with a little Copland on the side. English music enthusiasts shouldn't hesitate: it's heart-warming stuff, and the spiky/folkloric ballet is fun, too."

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