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David Hurwitz, May 2019

Viver ou Morrer (To Live or To Die) is the very substantial prelude to a radio opera about women searching for their (dead) husbands on the battlefield. It’s a funeral march, not surprisingly, full of dark colors and brooding melodies. Perhaps a bit long for the material, it’s still a moving and beautiful work. The next four pieces, all composed for chamber orchestra in 1955/6, show Braga Santos at his most captivating. Check out the Pastoral (sound clip), two minutes of pure delight, but then all four are wonderful examples of his genuine craftsmanship and skill. The writing for harp is especially effective.

This performance, with pianist Goran Filipec the intrepid soloist, is probably as fine as we’re going to get for quite a while, and with Álvaro Cassuto on the podium we know that the music is in capable hands. This is a terrific disc full of wide-ranging music. Do try it. © 2019 Read complete review

Karl F. Miller
Fanfare, March 2019

The performances are superb. Goran Filipec does a terrific job with the concerto. The orchestra is in fine form. Great praise is due to Cassuto. He is not only a brilliant conductor, but almost single-handedly has seen to it that we have the opportunity to hear this and other engaging music of his country. He has done for Portuguese music what Koussevitzky, Stock, Stokowski, Schwarz, and Slatkin have done for American music. That is an amazing accomplishment. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, January 2019

Filipec’s pianism lights up every one of the work’s virtues. His interpretation is constantly exciting, and the Liverpudlians play what must be unfamiliar repertoire with complete confidence. Alvaro Cassuto’s conducting of Braga-Santos’s music generally strikes me as unbeatable. Naxos’s sound is clean and natural. Maestro Cassuto’s liner notes are as illuminating as his conducting. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, November 2018

Álvaro Cassuto (b. 1938; see 13 January 2014) introduces us to another eight of his orchestral goodies. More specifically, there are a couple of stand-alone overtures, an opera prelude, four symphonic miniatures and a piano concerto, all of which are world premiere recordings.

Done a little over a year ago at The Friary in Liverpool, England, the recordings project a wide, comfortably recessed sonic image in reverberant surroundings. © 2018 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Bob Stevenson
MusicWeb International, October 2018

A splendidly performed and recorded miscellany that usefully mops up some rarities from both main phases of the composer’s career. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, October 2018

Here is another round of works by Portuguese composer Joly Braga Santos, committedly performed by Alvaro Cassuto and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. © 2018 Pizzicato

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, September 2018

Cassuto points out “that the first three works as well as the Piano Concerto were written for a large orchestra with full-bodied string sections, while the remaining four works are all short and composed for a reduced ensemble, without heavy brass or percussion, and quite naturally with a smaller string section in mind, although this is not specifically indicated. These four ‘miniatures’, or ‘vignettes’ as I call them, are based on four different Portuguese folk songs."

The collection is more than merely shored up by one of the very best of liner-notes. These are by conductor Cassuto—something of a kingpin in the revival of Portuguese music of this era. He was also the composer’s friend. We could hardly be in better hands, although I am sure that other conductors will find much to draw them close among Braga Santos’s output. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2018

It is twenty years ago that Portugal’s great conductor, Álvaro Cassuto, launched the series of recordings of symphonic music by Joly Braga Santos and Freitas Branco. Together they represent the pinnacle of orchestral music composed in Portugal in the 20th century, but they have yet to reach out to the international market that the recording industry could achieve. It needed a champion that it found in Cassuto who, linked with the Marco Polo and Naxos labels, has been furthering their cause, this new release gathering together eight works by Braga Santos that have never previously appeared on disc. Yet you have to go no further than the first track, the First Symphonic Overture, to find music that is immediately attractive with its brightly lit orchestral colours, the Second adding a high impact to those features. In 1952 came an opera composed for radio—Viver ou Morrer—this sombre story being preceded by a threatening prelude lasting almost a quarter of an hour. Even the Piano Concerto has had to wait until now to go out into the world, though it offers a great showpiece score for the soloist. The opening is massive in its use of hard-hitting percussion adding to a piano part that threatens to engulf the orchestra, the central Largo bringing a brief respite in its soft colours. Changing the scene again, the finale is good humoured and uses the keyboard in ebullient mood. The soloist is the Croatian, Goran Filipec, a young pianists who has recently provided some brilliant discs of music by Liszt, and he again demonstrates that he is in the premiere league of keyboard virtuosos. As a whole this is a disc that requires an outstanding orchestra, the sheer impact and commitment of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic showing that today’s provincial UK orchestras would rank high in the world. Superb sound, and much recommended. © 2018 David’s Review Corner

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