Archive for category Portuguese Composers

NUM 1083

Title: Música Coral Portuguesa do Século XX

Artist: Coro de Câmara de Lisboa

Composers: Fernando Lopes Graça, Luiz de Freitas Branco, Joly Braga Santos

The Coro de Câmara de Lisboa (Lisbon Chamber Choir) was founded in 1978, by Prof. Teresita Gutierrez Marques, as Lisbon National Conservatory’s chamber choir. The choir is formed by twenty young musicians who perform — a cappella or in collaboration with instrumental ensembles — portuguese and foreign works from the Renaissance to the 21st century. They have already performed several world premières.
The Choir has always been very active, maintaining an artistic level which is unanimously applauded by the public and the critics. They have performed all over Portugal and in the most important concert halls of Lisbon (Belém Cultural Centre, Gulbenkian Foundation, S. Luiz and Trindade Theatres, etc.), and has participated in the most significant cultural exhibitions (Capuchos and Sintra festivals, the Gulbenkian Festival of Ancient Music, Lisbon ’94 – European Capital of Culture, Expo ’98 – World Exposition of Lisbon, the International Festival of Organ in Lisbon, etc.).
Abroad, the Choir has also performed extensively. Invited by institutions such as the European Choir Federation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Fundação Oriente or the Ministries of Culture of Portugal, Spain and Cape Verde, to give a few examples, the Choir has sung, among other places, in Madrid, Cuenca, León, Seville, Sória, Vitoria (Spain), Paris, Strasbourg, Rouen, Caen, Mont. St. Michel (France), Brussels, Malines (Belgium), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Rome, Bergamo, Biella, Bolzano, Novara, Trento, Turin, Verona (Italy), Bonn (Germany), Vienna (Austria), London (UK), Montréal (Canada), New York, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San José (USA), Belo Horizonte, Florianópolis, New Hamburg, Porto Alegre (Brazil), Montevideu (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Puebla (Mexico), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba), Macao and Cape Verde.
In its three participations in the International Choir Competition of Tolosa (Spain), Coro de Câmara de Lisboa has obtained a 1st and a 3 rd prize in the Polyphony class and two 2nd prizes in the Folksong category

.

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

BRUMAS


Brumas (CD NUM 1197)

Ângela Silva
soprano

Paulo Guerreiro
horn

Francisco Sassetti
Piano

Eurico Carrapatoso | António Rebello Neves | João Francisco Nascimento
Vasco Pearce de Azevedo | António Victorino D´Almeida

BUY CD

Eurico Carrapatoso

Sete melodias em forma de bruma
(traditional melodies from Azores)
This work was ordered by the Direcção Regional de Cultura of Azores.
It consists of harmonisations over traditional melodies from Azores that was written in 1998 and performed for the first time by Ana Ferraz (soprano), Gabriela Canavilhas (piano) and António Costa (trompa) at Expo 98.
It is dedicated to the earthquake victims in Faial that occurred 9th July, 1998.
The tone is melancholic resembling mysterious brumes over that magical archipelago. Those Isles are also painted by blue and green.
This is one more step in my personal discovery, feeling myself very portuguese, in direction of my musical graal.

Eurico Carrapatoso, Dez, 2009

Rebello Neves
Rebello Neves (1874-1957) – He was born in Tavira and died
in Faro, where he spent the greater part of his life.
He mostly composed song for voice and piano with texts of portuguese writers, specially from the region of Algarve. Besides, he was pianist and conductor, directing school choirs and orchestras from Algarve.
Ângela Silva, Jan, 2010

Five Portuguese Songs
These five songs composed by my great-grandfather (Ecos da Serra, Partindo-se, Cantiga de Embalar, Embalando um coração e À luz dos Olhos Teus) belong to a song compilation published in May, 1946 for Algarve Region. This edition was an initiative by the president Dr. Jose Correia do Nascimento , after taken a deliberation in Dez, 1944 for Municipal Chamber of Faro. He was influenced by the homage paid to Rebello Neves and decided to create the “City Medal” to award the people that deserve the honour to be distinguished in the city of Faro. The first medal was created for Maestro Rebello Neves.
In these songs there is a great simplicity and melody richness where we can find different characteristics of his music: Sadness in Partindo-se, rural character in Ecos da Serra (rural but with great vocal demand for the soprano part who should own a sweet and flexible high range), melancholy at À luz dos teus olhos (slow valse character) or sweetness in Embalando um coração and in Cantiga de Embalar (dedicated to “his granddaughter “, my mother).

Vasco Pearce de Azevedo – Fev, 2010

João Francisco Nascimento
Portuguese composer João Francisco Nascimento (b. 1957) graduated from Universidade Técnica de Lisboa with a degree in Physical Education in 1984.
He taught Physical Education in several institutions such as Fundação Liga Portuguesa dos Deficientes Motores. In 1993 he began his musical studies with Eurico Carrapatoso at Academia de Amadores de Música. In 1997, he began
his composition studies with António Pinho Vargas and Christopher Bochmann at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa. From 2005-08 he made a master’s degree with Christopher Bochmann at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa where he graduated with highest honors. Since 2003, he has taught Analysis and Techniques of Composition at the Conservatório Regional de Évora. Since 2006, he has taught Musical Analysis and History of Music at the Instituto
Superior de Estudos Interculturais e Transdisciplinares (Instituto Piaget –’D0Almada). His works have been performed by most major ensembles and orchestras in Portugal.

Nossa Senhoras das Neves
“Nossa Senhora das Neves” is a song of Alentejo, the region of Beja, mentioned in the book “Moments vocals of Baixo Alentejo” of João Ranita of Nazareth. Tell us about our mother and God’s mother, linking us to “Mother Nature”, to the immensity of the plain land that collects, protects and embraces calmly travel adventure in it.
Ilhas, December 8, 2009

Gabriela
Gabriela was a very young girl, who for many years ago used to take the train line in Estoril. Dark-skinned, curly long hair and his smile were so infectious that the old hermit could not resist smiling when secretly watched her running away having the rain her companion.
Ilhas, December 8, 2009

Vasco Pearce de Azevedo
Born in Lisbon, Vasco Pearce de Azevedo finished his Bachelor Degree in Composition at the Lisbon Superior School of Music, having studied with Christopher Bochmann and Constança Capdeville. He frequented several Master Classes in conducting having worked with Jean-Sébastien Béreau, Ernst Schelle, Jenö Rehak, and Octav Calleya (orchestral conducting) and with Erwin List, Josep Prats, Johann Duijck, Laszlo Heltay,
Edgar Saramago, and José Robert (choral conducting). Vasco Azevedo received his Master’s Degree in orchestral and choral conducting at the University of Cincinnati, under the supervision of Gerhard Samuel, Christopher Zimmermann, Elmer Thomas, and John Leman. He obtained, in 1997, the 3rd Prize in the IIIº International Conducting Competition Maestro Pedro de Freitas Branco, and in 1996, a Honourable Mention in the 2nd Fundação Oriente International Competition for Young Orchestra Conductors. In 1988, in the “Novos Valores da Cultura” Competition, he obtained the 1º Prize in Choral Music with the Syntagma Musicum Choir, and a Honorable Mention in Composition with the piece “3 Pantoneças in Memoriam Alban Berg”.
Vasco Azevedo was Principal Conductor of the Portuguese Musical Youth Orquestra (1992–95), and is since 1995, Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Lisbon Sinfonietta. Vasco Azevedo has been guest conducting the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra, the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra, the OPorto Classical Orchestra, the OPorto National Orchestra, the Filarmonia das Beiras, the Algarve Orchestra, the Viana do Castelo Professional School of Music Orchestra, the Artave Orchestra, the Sinfónica Juvenil, and the Portuguese Schools of Music Orchestra. In 1999, he conducted the première of “Dançares” by Fernando Lopes-Graça and the portuguese première of “Agon” by Stravinsky, with the Portuguese National Ballet Company. He is currently a teacher at the Lisbon Superior School of Music. He also has a Degree in Electrotechnical Engeneering.

Bela Aurora (traditional melody from Azores)
This is an harmonization of a melody from S. Miguel at Azores.
This melancholic melody is made by the soprano part, practically free of alterations, while the horn plays a complementary role presenting some material in contrapunto with the voice.
In which of these three strophes are used different harmonisations; the first is written in a diatonic minor tone, the second is also written in a minor tone including some chromatics elements – it is the most dense of the three versions (also happens that the melody changes a little bit to emphasize the pain); the last one written in a relative major tone with some chromatisms, is the brightest of the three strophes.
In the short introduction preceding the soprano part, the horn exposes the theme based in a melody inversion while the piano accompaniment anticipates the harmonization that comes after the voice.
Vasco Pearce de Azevedo – Dez, 2009
a

Salvaterra me desterra (traditional melody from Beira Baixa)
The first version of “Salvaterra me desterra” was composed in July, 1988, when Maria Ana Lourenço asked me to write an harmonization of a portuguese popular song for contralto.
That time she needed a portuguese piece for an International Singing Competition in Cervera (Spain) and I decided to write an harmonization typical of the 20th century portuguese composers that emphasizes a pure and simple melody. In July, 1989, I decided to adapt the piano part for five voices (SMzATB), keeping the melody in a solo part (contralto or baritone). This orchestration is also available in a third version for Viola and String Orchestra, similar to the choir version I made before.

Vasco Pearce de Azevedo – Dez, 2009

António Victorino D’Almeida
António Victorino D’Almeida was born in Lisbon on May 21, 1940. A student of Campos Coelho, he completed his superior studies in piano at the National Conservatory of Lisbon, graduating with high honors. He then studied in Vienna, where he received his degree, with highest honors, from the Superior School of Music in Vienna (today, the School of Music), studying with Karl Schiske.
As a concert artist, he developed an intense international career, which placed him among the finest Portuguese pianists of his time, but this activity was inevitably reduced after D’Almeida accepted the post of cultural attaché in Vienna.
His principal activity is, however, composition. Certainly one of the most prolific of Portuguese composers – his works include music for piano solo, piano with other instruments, chamber music, works for orchestra and orchestra with choir, vocal music ranging from Lieder to opera, as well as much music for inema and theater. His music has received praise from such illustrious figures as Hans Swarowski, Godfried von Einem,
João de Freitas Branco or Dimitri Shostakovich.
At the moment, there are nine CD’s, published on the label, Numérica, devoted entirely to the music of António Victorino D’Almeida. Some the most recent of these include “Sinfonia Nº2 | Concertino”, “Sinfonia Nº 3 | Sinfonia Nº 4”, Dinis e Isabel and other Chamber Works” as well as “Sacred Music.” In addition to these, further recordings, by the Opus Ensemble for example, also include works from D’Almeida’s pen.

Três canções op 91 sobre textos de José Carlos Gonzalez e Vocalizo
José Carlos González stands, in my opinion, among the great poets of his generation, part of the famous group associated with café Gelo, so relevant to the surrealist movement in Portugal.
He was a man who displayed an extreme sensitivity to music, a deep connoisseur of the musical repertoire, and his poetry – which, in some cases, directly approaches works by great composers, as is the case of Schubert’s “Octet”… – is clothed in a rhythm and in an expressive language that makes it particularly musical…
Regrettably, there was not enough time for me to produce more Lieder to texts by this author, who was, at the same time a great personal friend – the three presented here are the only ones that exist…
It may be observed that I seek to be coherent in my belief that no instrument is more important than any other, that everything depends on the exact moment in which instruments intervene so that their characteristics may take part in the musical interplay – and I never make an exception for the voice.
For me, this also completely excludes the highly reductive idea of so-called accompaniment: in the music which I make, no one accompanies anyone else, so that everyone is a soloist, in this or that passage…
So, when writing for voice, piano and horn, I may also be writing for horn, piano and voice – or piano, voice and horn…- since no element is, by nature, more salient than the others.
There exist, of course, instruments which are inherently more or less discreet than others, but that is merely a question of character…
And that fact that the voice pronounces the words does not mean, from my point of view, that the other instruments are not interpreting the meaning of the text.
In fact, the Vocalizo was also composed to a text of José Carlos González, whose sense is in the very music, so much so, that I remember quite clearly having explained to him that in this specific case, I would even remove his words.
As a stalwart surrealist, he immediately agreed. In fact, he even considered that it should be up to the listener to imagine those words and the ideas transmitted by the music, without being influenced by his own reading…
In this way, the current disc contains the four (and not three) Lieder which I wrote to texts by a great poet who remains insufficiently well known by the vast majority of people to be properly appreciated within the Portuguese cultural heritage.

António Victorino D’Almeida – Fev, 2010

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

REEDIÇÃO TOQUE DE CAIXA – NUM 1018

O TOQUE-DE-CAIXA nasceu com os cantares de janeiras, no natal de 1985. O gosto comum pela música tradicional fez com que os seus músicos, um grupo de amigos, prosseguissem a recriação de novos ambientes sonoros. – O moderno e o antigo, são elementos de fusão para uma “nova música tradicional”.
Entre Julho e Setembro de 1993 grava com a editora “Numérica” o disco “histórias do som” que faz a sua edição em Novembro em colaboração com a Cooperativa Cultural Etnia. Este disco foi considerado, nesse ano, o melhor trabalho de música popular portuguesa, pela principal crítica especializada nacional.
Reeditado agora num novo formato, o cd Histórias do Som esta novamente disponível no mercado.
O TOQUE-DE-CAIXA é, acima de tudo,
um grupo de amigos. Alguns mudam, mas
a amizade fica… que realmente gostamos de preservar!

Miguel Teixeira
Cordas
Albertina Canastra
Acordeão|Concertina
Tiago Soares
Percussões
Emanuel Sousa
Violino|Bandolim
Abílio Machado
Percussões
Teresa Paiva
GaitaFoles|Flautas
Pedro Cunha
Piano
Fernando Figueiredo
Baixo
Horácio Marques
Cordas

LISTEN/BUY MP3

BUY CD

.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

NUM 1193

Title: DINIS E ISABEL an Other Chamber Music

Artists: Orquestra Utópica, Quinteto de Metais LX Brass, Nuno Corte-Real, Ana Ferraz, José João Gomes dos Santos, Antonio Costa, Ravelle Chapuis, Carmen Cardeal, Janete Santos, Ana Pereira, Joana Cipriano, Carolina Matos, Ingeborg Baldaszti & Ricardo Rocha

Composer: António Victorino D’Almeida

In general – but with a sufficient number of worthy and honorable exceptions, which are, in many cases, enough to annul this negative observation – I am seldom enthused to hear singing, as I find myself far from considering, as some affirm, that the human voice is the most beautiful of instruments. On the contrary, I must confess that much vocal music even manages to actually bother me, for example, the use of voice can render melodies that would be perfectly acceptable, if played on other instruments, completely unbearable.However, I insist in the value of the exceptions, and wish to clarify that the voices which fascinate me might come from a Beniamino Gigli, Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti or a Maria Callas, Franck Sinatra, Carlos do Carmo, Amália Rodrigues, Edith Piaf or an Ellis Regina, among many other exemplary cases. And so, overcome by a sense of wonder and true enchantment, I employed the voice-without-words of Ana Ferrraz in “Dinis e Isabel,” considering that, in this instance, I was before a truly perfect instrument!Neither can I ignore that the art of singing is connected, and very much so, to verbal articulation, which gains special relief in those wonderful singer/songwriters like a Brel, or a Brassens – who are even said to have “weak” voices… – or in the true marvel that results from just any Lied sung by Fischer-Dieskau!This relation between sound and word may become truly beguiling. One of its greatest proponents is found in an amazing composer, Giacomo Puccini – so much so, that it would be difficult for me to imagine him without access to the human voice, irrespective of the prodigious quality of his orchestration!And so, I will not transform a problem of sensibility, one that is perhaps shared only by me, into a theory, much less a rule, given that the world of exceptions is so truly vast that I would easily fall into difficult and constant contradictions. This is how I feel, and I will not hide this reality, even though it might keep me within the bounds of the “artistically correct.”  Therefore, I wish to convey quite openly that in my interpretation of that most beautiful text by António Patrício in “Dinis e Isabel” (I had already done something similar with “Dom João e a Máscara,” in fact) is exclusively instrumental, so that the admirable timbre  – allied with superb musicality – of Ana Ferraz, functions in equal measure with the role of the horn, piano, flute and harp, instruments which, in this case, also benefit from musicians of noteworthy quality.
I was invited to write a Decateto (no. 1) to be performed in Porto and I immediately accepted the proposal, since, in addition to my own fascination for chamber music, the relatively large number of available instruments would permit me to establish relationships and sonorous effects similar to those possible in more symphonic situations. It so happens that I was wrong – I did not understand the commission arranged over the telephone…- and I wrote the piece for an instrumental formation that was nearly the opposite, in timbral terms, of the one asked of me. With only one week until the beginning of rehearsals, I had no alternative but to write, this time with the instruments initially requested, the Decateto no. 2 (which should have been the first one…) in a very short period of time, but I enjoyed resolving this “mistake,” especially since I consider that the two works complement each other in several manners.

“Memória” is a small piece dedicated precisely to the memory of someone already disappeared – known as Odette de Saint-Maurice – who produced a body of literature perhaps legitimately related with the so-called “romance cor-de-rosa” (overly simplistic, hyper-romantic novels), although this classification never offended the author.  She was more preoccupied with writing Portuguese well, which she always succeeded in doing, despite her great number of books – books that have undeniably marked at least two generations of Portuguese youth.

Many have asked me about the meaning of my piece entitled “O Pássaro que salvou o mundo,” (“The bird that saved the world”).  And I admit that it would be, in whatever circumstances, absurd to imagine a bird capable of saving the world – perhaps this already attributes an a priori sense of (a late) surrealism to this little quartet for flute and three string instruments.I wish to remind the reader, however, that the hypothesis of the world needing to be saved through the intervention of just anyone seems even more absurd…In fact, the nonsense is to be found in the perspective of the world (or life itself) needing to be saved, in accepting the systematic decimation of thousands of species, or the climatic phenomena that will lead to what is really no longer a distant future, putting an end to the career of that pernicious creature called the Human.And that reality is presented to us every day, and each time with more destructive power.Well, under these circumstances, if we are to accept the abominable and – from my perspective – abstruse idea that the world may be in risk and is therefore in need of saving, then the identity of its savior seems to me irrelevant, even if it turns out to be a simple bird… The bird does not even understand for what reason the world might be in need of saving, and at times, seems completely irritated with the situation.  But he does what he can, and, in the end, there is even a glimpse of the vague possibility that the world, thanks to the bird, or who knows what…can, perhaps, be saved…In Memoriam is a piece dedicated to a dear friend of mine since childhood, Engineer Armando Antunes, with whom I have shared, throughout the years, many important moments of my life – without forgetting a game of football played on top of a table, in which we both developed a virtuosity nearing perfection!… Armando Antunes died while champion of this game (which is a truly unparalleled game, although lamentably unknown, I must clarify) and I inherited the title.  But deprived of adversaries capable of challenging my skills, I am forced to play alone…The last time that I saw my old friend was at a concert where my piece, basically for brass instruments, “O Render dos heróis,” was performed.  This is why I have chosen the instrumentation of brass quintet to pay him this homage.

Ingeborg Baldaszti and Ricardo Rocha, piano and Portuguese guitar, respectively, are among the instrumentalists – from anywhere in the world – that I most admire.  I do so as much for their technique, which boarders on the amazing, as for their moving expressive capacities.  Unfortunately, from all of the music that I have written for this quite original duo, there exists only this little recording, Tocata, taken from the music I was invited to write for the television series by Moita Flores, “A Ferreirinha.”At any rate, even though I hope, for all the reasons, that these two fine musicians will be able to perform together many more times, I felt that, independent of the very specific character of the pieces – obviously, music for film or television… – it would not be fair to waste this opportunity to show the public what these two instruments, so seldom associated, are able to do together.

A. Victorino D’Almeida


LISTEN/BUY MP3


BUY CD

.

Leave a comment

NUM 1194

I wrote the Missa de São Judas Tadeu during a dark period in Portuguese music, when virtually no symphony orchestras existed in our country. This was one of the motives that led to the reduced number of interpreters required by the work: one soprano and a quartet of instruments.
However, the numeric scarcity of the players was copiously overwhelmed by the quality contained within the group, since the soprano was the singer, Elsa Saque, and the instrumental group was the Opus Ensemble.
Speaking with Cardinal António Ribeiro, who attended the work’s premiere at the Church of São Roque, His Eminence asked me the reason for the mass’s name – São Judas Tadeu – and I answered that, according to what I understood, São Judas Tadeu was known as the patron saint of lost causes. Well, in my opinion, music in Portugal certainly seemed, in fact, like a lost cause…
In the realm of sacred music, I wrote, during my childhood, an “Ave Maria;” and later, following the death of Bruno Pizzamiglio, I dedicated a De Profundis to the memory of that superb musician. In fact, the De Profundis would be the first piece to reunite the Opus Ensemble as a quartet, one that now included the young oboist, Pedro Ribeiro.
These three sacred works were presented in concert, in a performance in Viana do Castelo, which is reproduced on this CD. To these I have added a Te Deum – another work rather outside the norms of its genre – since a Te Deum is normally a work for large ensemble. This one, however, employs the voice of one soprano (Margarida Marecos) who functions as if she were a narrator for a text, which is commented upon by a believer, (the piano, interpreted by Olga Prats) and by a bassoon (Vera Dias), who represents the restlessness of the agnostic…
Except for the participation of the two singers and the young bassoonist, I consider this to be a disk of the Opus Ensemble which consists exclusively of music from my own pen – a great honor for me in a year when I mark seventy years of life and a career of fifty-five.
The quantity of sacred music I have written was recently augmented by the Missa de São Francisco de Assis – for large orchestra, four vocal soloists, a child’s voice and organ – which will not, unfortunately, be premiered in 2009, the 800th anniversary of the work’s honoree, for reasons that continue to be linked, in large part, to those which motivated the Missa de São Judas Tadeu: for how long will music in Portugal be considered a lost cause – or one still far from winning…?

António Victorino D’Almeida
(translation: Fredrick Gifford)

LISTEN/BUY MP3

BUY CD

.

.


Leave a comment

NUM 1189

Title: Missa Grande

Artist: Coro de Câmara de Lisboa

Composer: Marcos Portugal

Marcos Portugal was the most famous Luso-Brazilian composer ever.  In Europe his notoriety was mainly due to the dramatic works, and particularly due to the opere buffe. In Portugal and Brazil, however, his sacred music, of which we know more than 130 works, exerted an influence (still to ascertain in its entirety) that lasted for more than 100 years. Three of the most paradigmatic 19th century works were written by Marcos Portugal and remained in the churches’ repertoire until the beginning of the 20th century: the Great Mass in E b major (c.1782-90) [P 01.09],* the Te Deum in D major (1802) [P 04.08],* and the Matins of Our Lady of Conception in C major (1802) [P 03.05].*
Despite this evidence, the composer’s music is almost entirely unknown, a fact expressed in the lack of editions and in the rarity of recordings of integral works.
Marcos António Portugal was born on the 24th of March 1762 in the parish of S. Isabel in Lisbon. He was the grandson of Joaquim Mendes Ferreira, musician at Freixial, and the son of Manuel António da Assumpção or Ascensão, musician of the Santa Igreja Patriarcal (Patriarchal Holy Church). He was admitted to the Seminário da Patriarcal in 1771, a music school founded by D. João V in 1713 responsible for the training of almost all of the best Portuguese musicians of the 18th and early 19th centuries. His first works – including a Miserere from 1776 – date from such time when Marcos António was an intern student there. His music teachers at the Seminário were João de Sousa Carvalho and, most likely, José Joaquim dos Santos and Father Nicolau Ribeiro Passo Vedro.
In 1780, the 18 year old youngster started writing new music for the Patriarchal Church’s liturgical functions, and was later hired by the same institution as organist and composer. Before eventually being admitted to the Irmandade de S. Cecília (the musicians’ guild) on the 23rd of July 1783, Marcos António (the variant of his name he used at the time) composed several psalms, two antiphons, and at least one Te Deum. The widespread recognition of his talent soon reached the Royal Family and, on the 4th of December 1782, the Queen D. Maria I commissioned a mass com instrumental (with orchestra) for S. Bárbara’s feast, usually celebrated with solemnity and devotion at the Royal Queluz Palace. This occasion was of the utmost importance since it marked the beginning of a closer collaboration between Marcos Portugal and the Royal Family, and particularly Prince D. João (later King João VI), a relationship that would condition the rest of his professional life, and even influence his style.
Until 1792 his compositional activity was centered in the religious ceremonies taking place at the Patriarchal Church and Queluz, slowing down from 1785, when he also turned to composing royal birthday odes, entremezes, and Portuguese operas for the Teatro do Salitre. In the second half of the 1780’s he switched to another variant of his name, Marcos António da Fonseca Portugal (Fonseca Portugal being his mother’s surnames), and using the titles “Music Master of the Teatro do Salitre”, and “organist and composer of the Patriarchal Holy Church”.
His stay in Italy lasted from 1792 to 1800, with a brief sojourn in Portugal from mid 1794 until July 1795. In that country he premiered at least 21 operas, a surprisingly high number for a period of only six and a half years. This production illustrates the creative ability and extraordinary working capacity of Marco Portogallo (name by which he became known internationally). Manoel d’ Almeida Carvalhaes painstakingly describes the phenomenon of the premieres and dissemination of the composer’s operas in the indispensable work Marcos Portugal na sua música dramática: between 1793 and the second decade of the 19th century there were about 400 premieres and staged productions (implying thousands of performances) in more than 100 cities, including Lisbon, Vienna, Paris, London, Saint Petersburg and Rio de Janeiro. This unprecedented success was mainly due to the comic genre.
Back to Lisbon in 1800, the fame of the “Great Marcos” was at its peak, and he was offered two of the most significant music positions in the Kingdom: Music Master at the Seminário da Patriarcal (ceasing the function as organist at the Patriarchal Church), and Maestro at the Real Teatro de São Carlos (São Carlos Royal Theatre). A few years later he would also become Music Master of the Infantes Maria Isabel (born 1797), Pedro (born 1798), Maria Francisca (born 1800) and Isabel Maria (born 1801). These appointments attest the trust and admiration of the Prince Regent D. João for Marcos Portugal and his work.
During this period the focus of his activity were the opere serie for the Teatro de São Carlos (10 of them with roles created for the prima donna Angelica Catalani), as well as sacred music for Queluz (the habitual royal domicile) and the Basilica of Mafra’s Convent, where D. João took up residence after the aborted Autumn 1805 coup, and where he stayed until departing for Brazil. The repertoire for Mafra is particular since it is destined for the set of 6 organs and the voices of the monks.
Marcos Portugal was not among those who departed with the Portuguese Court on the 29th of November 1807, just before the arrival in Lisbon of Junot’s troops; however, after urgently being called by the Prince Regent to “go and serve Him in [Rio de Janeiro’s] Court”, he arrived in June 1811. The strategy and motives of the Monarch, and the role he had reserved for Marcos, besides that of music master to his son and daughters, was more comprehensive, as can be inferred from the letter the composer received less than 4 months after his arrival:
[…] It being required by decorum and decency, that the Pieces of Music, that are to be staged at the Public Theatres of this Court on the days that the Prince Regent Our Lord honours us with His presence, should be executed with the regularity, and good order, that are indispensable on these occasions, and there being united in Your Person all the circumstances of intelligence and worth needed to regulate and conduct such Spectacles properly: It pleases Him to charge you with overseeing and directing them. […]
The signalled nuance is revealing: the ceremonies attended by the Prince Regent were “different”, of another level of importance. This applied not only to the Public Theatres, but also to the Royal Chapel. Furthermore, a mise en scène is implied on all the public appearances of His Royal Highness. In the mind of D. João, the style of music that Marcos Portugal had, for years, been developing to potentiate the staging of Royal Power, was one of its essential ingredients. The composer not only wrote and chose the music, but made sure everything ran smoothly and in “good order”. In the widest sense his function was that of a “Director of Court Music”.
The virtuosic and dramatic music provided by Marcos enhanced the technical and expressive capacities of the soloists and, particularly, of the castrati, since he wrote for the individual idiosyncrasies of each singer. It is clear that the talents of the Italian castrati and the aesthetic they represented were an important part of the spectacle of exhibition of Royal Power: His Majesty was prepared to pay 100$000 reis per month, exactly double the Chapel Master’s salary, Father José Maurício Nunes Garcia, and double the salary of Marcos Portugal! Their participation in the two events with the greatest sociopolitical repercussions whilst the Portuguese Court remained in Rio de Janeiro was certainly decisive: the marriage of Prince Pedro and the Archduchess Leopoldina on the 7th of November 1817, and the Acclamation of King João VI, which took place on the 6th of February 1818.
The music situation at the Royal Chapel was radically altered with the return of the Court to Portugal and with Brazil’s independence in 1822. Not only some of the musicians working for the King of Portugal crossed the Atlantic (but not the castrati), but the financial difficulties originated increasing budget cuts, resulting in the diminution of gala ceremonies and in the degradation of the quality of the music performed in the Imperial Chapel.
Marcos Portugal, whose salary remained intact, decided to stay in Rio de Janeiro serving the new Emperor. From de 1st of January 1825, he was also appointed Music Master of the Imperial Princesses, the daughters of D. Pedro, D. Maria da Glória and D. Januária Maria. After remaining loyal to D. Maria I and D. João VI for 40 years, Marcos António Portugal dedicated the last 9 years of his life to the Emperor of Brazil, D. Pedro I, without the former glory, it is true, but apparently as esteemed by the son (his dedicated pupil) as he had been by the father.
According to Article 6. § 4º of the first Brazilian Constitution (1824), he became a Brazilian citizen. Marcos also wrote an Anthem for the Independence of Brazil (1822) sung during the 7th of September celebrations for several decades.
He died of a third apoplectic attack on the 17th of February 1830.
The Missa Grande [Great Mass] (c.1782-1790) is one of Marcos Portugal’s three sacred works that reached a remarkable geographical dissemination, as well as a constancy of liturgical usage lasting until the beginning of the 20th century. From the middle of the 19th century it became known as Missa Grande, possibly by virtue of the long Domine Deus, a sextet for 2 sopranos, alto, tenor and 2 basses. Its importance, influence and paradigmatic character are expressed not only in the large number of versions (15 were found so far), authored by Portuguese composers (among them António da Silva Leite, Eleutério Franco Leal and Mathias Jacob Osternold), but also in the noteworthy number of extant copies – 80 in total – found in public and private Portuguese and Brazilian archives. The successive adaptations attest to the functional characteristics of this music, and reveal some of the compositional and performance practices of the period.
The work predates the Italian period and was probably the result of a royal commission. It is a beautiful example of the concertato style (in which the choir and soloists alternate and dialogue), and reveals an inventive and mature composer. The sextet Domine Deus, the duet for 2 sopranos Quoniam tu solus, and the Crucifixus, are among the more inspired pages. Prominence should also be given to the Christe and the [Cum Sancto Spiritu] in gloria Dei Patris, two long fugati modeled in the works of the Neapolitan Davide Perez (1711-1778), active in the Portuguese Royal Chapel from 1752 until his death, and João de Sousa Carvalho (1745-1798), Perez’s successor and the music teacher of Marcos Portugal.
The version recorded here by the Lisbon Chamber Choir, scored for soloists, mixed choir and basso continuo (thoroughbass), was written by the composer and should date from c.1782-1792 [P 01.09, V2];**  the original version is for orchestra. It is the world premiere recording of the work.
ANTÓNIO JORGE MARQUES
* Numbering refers to the entries of the Thematic Catalogue of the Sacred Works of Marcos Portugal. P = Portugal.
** V2 refers to the work’s second version.

LISTEN/BUY MP3

BUY CD


, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

NUM 1188

Title: Compositores Portugueses XX-XXI

Artists: Coro de Câmara Lisboa Cantat, Coro Sinfónico Lisboa Cantat, Jorge Carvalho Alves, Clara Alcobia Coelho

Composers:  Fernando Lopes Graça, Paulo Lourenço, Tiago Marques, Eurico Carrapatoso

LISTEN/BUY MP3

BUY CD

.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: