Author Topic: Joly Braga Santos  (Read 51813 times)

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Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2008, 06:06:19 AM »
The praise on this thread has rekindled my interest in Braga Santos and suggests it's time to move him from the back burner to the front.  Where would y'all suggest starting?
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2008, 06:12:47 AM »
The praise on this thread has rekindled my interest in Braga Santos and suggests it's time to move him from the back burner to the front.  Where would y'all suggest starting?

Any one of the first three symphonies at least would give you a good impression of the early idiom. I am-again-listening as I write to the second movement of No.2 which I just find so heart-breakingly beautiful that words fail me!! Oh some cynics would say it is "corny, film music" but sucks to them!!!!!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2008, 06:23:27 AM »
Any one of the first three symphonies at least would give you a good impression of the early idiom. I am-again-listening as I write to the second movement of No.2 which I just find so heart-breakingly beautiful that words fail me!! Oh some cynics would say it is "corny, film music" but sucks to them!!!!!

Totally agree! Symphony No 4 would be a good starting point too I think. Its coupling on Marco Polo, the Symphonic Variations are  alsoexcellent.
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Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2008, 06:26:52 AM »
After all this, I'm going to download 2 and 3 this evening.

Hm, my emusic subscription is no match for my musical appetite...  :'( :)
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2008, 06:34:21 AM »
For such a young composer-as I said, aged 23-26-and from a country which had been, to an extent, isolated during the war and had no great orchestral tradition Braga Santos' s early symphonies are quite astonishing achievements!!!!

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2008, 06:39:19 AM »
After all this, I'm going to download 2 and 3 this evening.

Hm, my emusic subscription is no match for my musical appetite...  :'( :)

Report back, Johan! I would be particularly interested in what you think of No.2, obviously :)

Offline DavidRoss

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2008, 01:41:05 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions, guys.  I listened to some tracks of Cassuto's recordings on the Naxos site--seem desirable enough to pop a couple into the cart for my next shopping spree.  Howard Shore popped into mind a couple of times, listening to 3 & 4--not surprising, I guess, given the influences y'all mention.  ;)
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Offline mr_espansiva

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2008, 06:11:43 AM »
Much as I like Braga Santos (I have the symphonies and one or two other discs of orchestral music), I find that he is a bit like Tubin (not sonically, but in terms of quality). They were both excellent composers, capable of some superb tunes and new sound worlds, but neither of them were of the very highest rank (although well above many respected composers such as Brian, Langgaard and many others). There is some great stuff in all the symphonies (my favourites of both composers being their respective fifths) but at the end of the piece you come away feeling that they were not capable of going that extra mile to being truly great composers.  BTW, IMHO, Tubin was a considerably greater symphonist than BS - his symphonies hang together so well and are teeming with great ideas (try 3 or 5 in particular) - they display true symphonic growth and momentum.

The slow movement of BS No 2, for instance, the first climax isn't earned - it just happens - how did we get to this point - by increasing the volume!

Vaughan Williams symphonies are variable in quality but I couldn't put my hand on my heart and say that Braga Santos was as great as him - far from it.  If you know VW's 5th (or 2nd/3rd/4th/6th) intimately, you would know what I mean. And to seriously compare BS with Sibelius is simply showing a prejudice against the Finn. I am not prejudiced - I enjoy the BS symphonies - but in terms of profundity and deep down satisfaction, they come up short to me. B ut that said, it's all down to personal taste, isn't it?

p.s. I've gone to get my flame retardant vest on!
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2008, 03:19:07 PM »
Much as I like Braga Santos (I have the symphonies and one or two other discs of orchestral music), I find that he is a bit like Tubin (not sonically, but in terms of quality). They were both excellent composers, capable of some superb tunes and new sound worlds, but neither of them were of the very highest rank (although well above many respected composers such as Brian, Langgaard and many others). There is some great stuff in all the symphonies (my favourites of both composers being their respective fifths) but at the end of the piece you come away feeling that they were not capable of going that extra mile to being truly great composers.  BTW, IMHO, Tubin was a considerably greater symphonist than BS - his symphonies hang together so well and are teeming with great ideas (try 3 or 5 in particular) - they display true symphonic growth and momentum.

The slow movement of BS No 2, for instance, the first climax isn't earned - it just happens - how did we get to this point - by increasing the volume!

Vaughan Williams symphonies are variable in quality but I couldn't put my hand on my heart and say that Braga Santos was as great as him - far from it.  If you know VW's 5th (or 2nd/3rd/4th/6th) intimately, you would know what I mean. And to seriously compare BS with Sibelius is simply showing a prejudice against the Finn. I am not prejudiced - I enjoy the BS symphonies - but in terms of profundity and deep down satisfaction, they come up short to me. B ut that said, it's all down to personal taste, isn't it?

p.s. I've gone to get my flame retardant vest on!

You say that both Braga Santos and Tubin are "excellent composers, capable of some superb tunes" and that "there is some great stuff in all the symphonies". I completely agree with you with regard to both composers.
You go on to say that "neither of them was of the very highest rank"-again, I would not disagree although I do rate Brian much higher than you would appear to do!

I totally agree that Vaughan Williams was a much greater composer than Braga Santos and I would certainly not wish to compare him with a genius like Sibelius.

What I was saying however is that Braga Santos wrote some extraordinarily beautiful and moving music. I am less attuned personally to the sound world of his later music(the 5th and 6th symphonies, for example) but in his first four symphonies-written whilst still a very young man, written before he had had the opportunity to travel abroad to study and written in a relatively small country without much of a tradition of performing orchestral music, Braga Santos manages to conjure up music which I personally find affects me deeply every time I hear it. I do hear substantial echoes of the music of Vaughan Williams, Respighi, Kodaly, Bax, Moeran, sometimes even the wide-open-spaces of some contemporary American music-even though it is highly unlikely that Braga Santos had heard much if any of the music of these composers. The tunes are-as you rightly say-superb and in these circumstances that is a remarkable achievement. I am no expert(!) on Portugese renaissance polyphony but I do wonder whether Braga Santos's modalism is not influenced to an extent by such a musical history.

No need for the "flame retardant vest"!! :)

Offline Brian

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2008, 07:16:08 PM »
The slow movement of BS No 2, for instance, the first climax isn't earned - it just happens - how did we get to this point - by increasing the volume!
Braga Santos' initials are distinctly unflattering in this light.  >:D

Offline mr_espansiva

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2008, 11:33:42 PM »
Braga Santos' initials are distinctly unflattering in this light.  >:D

I see what you mean - unintentional and undeserved!
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Offline mr_espansiva

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2008, 11:41:58 PM »
What I was saying however is that Braga Santos wrote some extraordinarily beautiful and moving music. I am less attuned personally to the sound world of his later music(the 5th and 6th symphonies, for example) but in his first four symphonies-written whilst still a very young man, written before he had had the opportunity to travel abroad to study and written in a relatively small country without much of a tradition of performing orchestral music, Braga Santos manages to conjure up music which I personally find affects me deeply every time I hear it. I do hear substantial echoes of the music of Vaughan Williams, Respighi, Kodaly, Bax, Moeran, sometimes even the wide-open-spaces of some contemporary American music-even though it is highly unlikely that Braga Santos had heard much if any of the music of these composers. The tunes are-as you rightly say-superb and in these circumstances that is a remarkable achievement. I am no expert(!) on Portugese renaissance polyphony but I do wonder whether Braga Santos's modalism is not influenced to an extent by such a musical history.

No need for the "flame retardant vest"!! :)

Some very good points there. He may be an eclectic but as there was not a great tradition in Portugal for symphonic writing, his knowledge of the symphony orchestra had to come from foreign shores. However, he still managed to form a distinctive voice and anyone who knows his earlier music could recognise it as his very quickly - and that is often a sign of a great composer. I don't know much about Portugese renaissance polyphony either and so I would be risking ridicule to suggest that his music has strong roots in that period - but why not? - Tippett's music is rooted in Elizabethan polyphony, and some of the contemporaries that you mention also found inspiration in the music of several centuries prior - VW not least.

I too find many echoes of other composers in BS's music and it is interesting that you mention the wide-open-spaces of contemporary North American music - listen to a Diamond symphony and you will hear similarities in the breadth and breath of the music. I also hear a lot of South American music in his later works - his 5th symphony could be mistaken for Villa Lobos in places.
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Subotnick

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2008, 12:09:10 AM »
After all this, I'm going to download 2 and 3 this evening.

Hm, my emusic subscription is no match for my musical appetite...  :'( :)

You and me both!  ;D I was going to ask the same question as David. After reading here, I'm intrigued by the 2nd movement of the 2nd. Until my emusic subscription renews next month, the last.fm streams will suit me fine   :)

TTFN.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2008, 01:57:29 AM »
Very interesting discussion going on here. This kind of think is why I joined this group and, as Colin said, no need for flame-retardant vests (well, not yet anyway  :))

What I find enjoyable may well not be "great" and I may not enjoy music that clearly is considered great (ie most of Mozart... that flame retardant vest might be needed after all!)
Braga Santos/Tubin/Moeran/Brian/Langgaard are all composers whose music means a lot to me, probably because the music moves me emotionally. I don't know whether it is "great" as this is partly a subjective assessment. The CD guides often criticised compositions which depend on "atmosphere" rather than "argument" but I often prefer music which focuses on atmosphere. Of the composers discussed so far, I think that Sibelius was truly a great composer in all respects.  Vaughan Williams, maybe, to a lesser extent but symphonies 4-6 and 9 are, for me, great works. I suppose that it depends on what you mean by great.  Maybe it is work which is convincingly structured but also deeply moving (Bruckner's 8th/9th symphonies?)

Bloch is, I believe, a great composer (string quartets, schelomo, Sacred Service, Piano Quintet No 1) but many reviews claim that it sounds like the scores (or some of the orchestral ones at least) for a Hollywood soundtrack for a Biblical Epic...but this has never been a problem for me and does not, in my view, undermine Bloch's "greatness" whatever that is.

Just a few rambling thoughts...
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 05:14:43 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline mr_espansiva

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2008, 05:04:45 AM »
What I find enjoyable may well not be "great" and I may not enjoy music that clearly is considered great ...

That is one of the beauties of music - it is a personal experience, and what is good for you probably won't be good for the next person, and never let them tell you otherwise.

Too many people want to impose their personal experience on others and it just doesn't work! Everyone has to find their own way and it is that journey that enriches us all.

Now I have tried to be so profound ('when everything I am, is lying on the ground' - Peter Gabriel), I'm off to listen to something or other that I have stumbled over on my journey ...
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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #35 on: May 20, 2008, 05:20:17 AM »
First, thanks all for the excellent comments & recommendations on this composer who currently is not in my 'expanding' collection!  ;) ;D

Second, I was reviewing some of the comments on Amazon - the first four symphonies receive universally superb comments, however, his later compositions seemed to have changed to a more atonal 'noisy' style - as an example, the disc shown below appears to have a combination of 'early' & 'later' works - our own Scott Morrison gives the CD only 3*, but breaks the recording into these two areas of the composer's writings.  Thus, I be quite curious about the feelings from those here who might provide further elucidation on these apparently differing styles - thanks, again!  :)   P.S. CLICK on the image for Scott's review!


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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #36 on: May 20, 2008, 06:13:12 AM »
First, thanks all for the excellent comments & recommendations on this composer who currently is not in my 'expanding' collection!  ;) ;D

Second, I was reviewing some of the comments on Amazon - the first four symphonies receive universally superb comments, however, his later compositions seemed to have changed to a more atonal 'noisy' style - as an example, the disc shown below appears to have a combination of 'early' & 'later' works - our own Scott Morrison gives the CD only 3*, but breaks the recording into these two areas of the composer's writings.  Thus, I be quite curious about the feelings from those here who might provide further elucidation on these apparently differing styles - thanks, again!  :)   P.S. CLICK on the image for Scott's review!

Offhand, my "benefit-of-the-doubt" rule supposes that we may need more than just one recording to do the less-mainstream-ish works justice.  I find Braga Santos's work excellent through the course of his regrettably brief career;  I don't find that the quality of his work "falls off" at all when adopting his more atonal 'noisy' style.

Consider the Beethoven model:  his first two symphonies fit fairly readily into prior symphonic tradition.  With his third, he starts to re-design the mold.  From our remove, and especially since all his nine symphonies have been standard rep for nearly 200 years, it's hard to imagine a time when people had to learn to hear Beethoven, and learn to play his music . . . but there it is.

So, I simply encourage folks not to write off any new music based on a sole recording, one may say especially if (unfortunately) there is only recording available.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #37 on: May 20, 2008, 06:29:54 AM »
......................
So, I simply encourage folks not to write off any new music based on a sole recording, one may say especially if (unfortunately) there is only recording available.

Karl - thanks for the comments - just 'paraphrasing' some of the Amazonian comments since I've not heard any of his works 'to date' myself - but, will certainly start w/ those early symphonies!  Dave  :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #38 on: May 20, 2008, 06:30:16 AM »
I see what you mean (Karl) about the later works. I have Symphony No 5 (actually managed to find the Portugalsom version as well as the one on Marco Polo). It has definitely grown on me, even if it is not as immediately approachable as Nos 1-4. It has a kind of gritty integrity to it, which I am beginning to appreciate. I think that I will listen to it again tonight.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 06:34:14 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Joly Braga Santos
« Reply #39 on: May 20, 2008, 06:32:09 AM »
Sensible comments, Karl.

I listened, by the way, to the Sinfonietta for String Orchestra earlier today - invigorating music. If that is how 'late' Braga Santos sounds, I don't have any difficulty with the idiom.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato