Posts Tagged 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


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Brumas (CD NUM 1197)

Ângela Silva

Paulo Guerreiro

Francisco Sassetti

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


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 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

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

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NUM 1191

Title:  Sinfonia nr 2 & Concertino

Artists: Festival Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa, Antonio Victorino D’Almeida

Composer: António Victorino D’Almeida

A portrait of António Victorino D’Almeida (with Jean Cocteau in the background)
“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”
When I first encountered this quotation, it was attributed to Jean Cocteau.  Since then, I have seen it ascribed to a different person nearly every time I encounter it.  (And if we were to confer with the nearly infinite source of disinformation the Internet is quickly evolving to become, I’m certain we could find the same quotation attached to any number of luminaries).  Whatever the case, the universality of the attribution speaks both to the inherent veracity of the statement as well as to the proclivity of culture to borrow and integrate good ideas.  It is not perchance then, that I have chosen this particular sentence to frame a small portrait of the music of António Victorino D’Almeida.
First, the choice of this quote by Cocteau raises a question about historical proximity.  The music of António Victorino D’Almeida included on this CD, although not literally contemporary with the modernism of Cocteau (the works recorded here were written after the French author’s death), immediately conjures the sound world associated with the Paris inhabited by Cocteau in the 1920’s and ‘30’s.  Any listener familiar with music from the French capital during the fist half of the twentieth century will no doubt share the composer’s sardonic grin as she encounters reminiscences of Debussy, Gershwin, Stravinsky, Ravel, Honegger, Prokofiev, Auric and maybe even Satie.  Such “reminiscences” are not mere quotation, but rather, the evocation of a style (or styles) and all the associated trappings.  It’s as though the composer clothes himself in the costumes and customs of a given stylistic world and then writes at least a few phrases of well-behaved music in it before moving onto his next stylistic “target.”
Then there is a line of thought centered around borrowing – Cocteau as the creative plunderer of Greek drama in La Machine Infernal, for instance. (In fact, the mechanical bubbling conjured by Cocteau’s title might seem a rather appropriate metaphor for the orchestral “factory”  encountered on the current recording, as the musicians toil away to make the high number of character changes take place so seamlessly).  Perhaps plunderer is too harsh a term, although it is difficult to resist the image of the French dramaturge as some sort of surrealist Giovanni Belzoni, penning his initials on the pyramids of Greek drama.  And Belzoni brings us back to the thread of cultural appropriation and borrowing – after all, where would the British Museum be without its obelisks?  That is to say, why shouldn’t António Victorino D’Almeida be able to export the styles of musical monuments from their original contexts and shape them to achieve his own creative ends?  In fact, the plurality of the composer’s borrowings is what drives his musical discourse.
Before the so-called post-modernist period, one typically spoke of collage or pastiche, and it seems that the satire implicit in the latter term (with all its echoes of Cocteau) is at the heart of D’Almeida’s endeavors.  How else could a “stinger” (the most crassly “closed” of closing gestures) seeming to come from a film of the Golden Era of Hollywood elide so smoothly with a continuation in the form of a gossamer texture evoking the “impressionist” aether? How does “Gershwin-like” Americana commingle so easily with Viennese waltzing? (Although I have latched onto Cocteau, it is clear that D’Almeida’s frame extends well beyond France).  The satire results from the new continuity created by these seeming mismatches.
Here we strike on another ray, one that stretches from Cocteau to António Victorino D’Almeida via that most double-edged of dramatic tools, parody.  Of course when we think of Cocteau, we mean dramatic parody. But with D’Almeida, we have two kinds of parody to deal with: musical and comedic parody (and with so many sharp edges, it’s unlikely that someone won’t get hurt…).  Musical parody refers to the very old practice of borrowing pre-existing music and composing with it, in order to create a new composition. Employed extensively by late-Medieval and Renaissance composers, many times this sort of borrowing involved the innocuous use of a four-part (sacred) motet to generate a 5-voice mass, for example.  But at times it played with the more flagrant integration of a popular chanson into the polyphonic texture of liturgical music, projecting the profane onto the sacred in a manner that bordered on sacrilege.  Of course, such a loaded technique was enthusiastically revived in the last century by the theatrical surrealists and musical “neo-classicists” working in Cocteau’s Paris, and continues to be echoed in D’Almeida’s music.
But D’almeida’s parody is not literally concerned with embedding known tunes into his textures, rather, his rapid-fire evocations of “profane” situations challenge the canonic form of the symphony as erudite concert music, in the vein of his modernist predecessors.  But in the Portuguese composer’s music, the challenge is not one to be taken lightly – in fact humor can be quite a serious matter.
At this junction with parody and humor, our train of thought must detour briefly towards another composer – one, no doubt, very close in spirit to D’Almeida – the American Charles Ives.  In Ives’s musical parodies (here the term applies in its literal sense), the religious hymn tunes that are set in counterpoint with patriotic numbers (at times quite comically) are done so, not to belittle the component sources, but in order to throw them into a new dialogue – a result akin to the effect of the juxtapositions in the music of António Victorino D’Almeida.
Yet another fleeting thought: we are struck by the multi-faceted approach to art in his vast output.  Here is a man who writes both original pieces as well as histories and criticism, makes films and retains the role of a personality in the story of his nation’s culture.  It is an observation that could apply equally to Cocteau as well as D’Almeida.
Still, the reader may protest, charging that I haven’t spoken directly about the music on this CD.  But that probably won’t bother the composer too much.  The main reason Cocteau’s provocative quote came to mind in the first place was a question of appropriateness (and here, the echoes of Igor Stravinsky, a great collaborator of Cocteau, are quite loud ), or rather, the lack of appropriateness of verbosity in the face of music whose discourse relies on experiencing the voyage of unexpected twists and turns into and out of nearly as many styles, speeds, keys and characters as the pieces have minutes.
And after saying all of this, what if I am mistaken – what if the incipit wasn’t even by Cocteau at all?
Fredrick Gifford




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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.
* 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.



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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




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NUM 1150

Title: Opus Ensemble 2007

Artists: Opus Ensemble, Pedro Ribeiro, Ana
Bela Chaves, Olga Prats, Alejandro Erlich Oliva

Composers: Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Fernando Lopes-Graça, António Victorino D’Almeida

Presenting world-premiere recordings of two notable works dedicated to the Opus Ensemble by Portuguese authors is the basic concept that determined the choice of repertoire on this CD.
The persistent action of dissemination of Portuguese music begun by the Opus Ensemble in 1980 had an unconditional proponent in Fernando Lopes Graça.  His artistic and human relation with Olga Prats and Ana Bela Chaves predates the founding of the Opus Ensemble, which the great composer welcomed with sincere enthusiasm. In this way, preexistent ties generated new and vigorous connections.
Geórgicas was dedicated to the Opus Ensemble in 1989. The world premiere took place in Tomar (12/14/1991) and the Latin-American premiere was organized by the Wagnerian Association of Buenos Aires, with assistance from the ministerial guardian of culture of the Republic of Argentina and with the support of the Portuguese Embassy (08/25/1993). A studio videorecording of the work was made by RTP (Portuguese Television) and a live audiorecording was made by RDP (Portuguese Radio); but  until now, the work was never published on CD.
De Profundis à memória de Bruno Pizzamiglio (Op. 130) by António Victorino d’Almeida was the first work dedicated to an Opus Ensemble regrouped as a quartet, after its reduction to a trio motivated by the death, in 1997, of the founding oboist of the ensemble.
Its premiere (Viana do Castelo, 09/20/2003) signaled the first performance of the Opus Ensemble with Pedro Ribeiro, who, is now a permanent member of the group.
In the program notes for that event, the composer wrote (excerpts):  “Bruno Pizzamiglio left us and his place in the Opus Ensemble stayed empty and silent.  But nothing can last forever – not even the absence dictated by death – when one considers such a superior concept, complex but concrete, called resurrection… De Profundis is, without a doubt, a long and agitated meditation on this strange phenomenon – at times frightening or even aberrant, in other cases, almost bearable as natural – which is the passage of someone we know, with whom we have dealt and worked, from the world, apparently far from his future resurrection”…. A single sonority clearly in the major mode, on the final beat of the final measure, defines the certainty that I have always had in the indisputable truth of that resurrection and that the Opus Ensemble would reemerge today without empty space or silence, not because the grief is past, but because time has passed.”
Haydn and Beethoven, heavy names in any repertoire, are particularly welcome here, as they constitute referential archetypes worthy of special admiration. This is assumed publicly, on the part of the two illustrious Portuguese creators that the Opus Ensemble, with pride and gratitude, pays homage on this CD.
Finally, a warm greeting for João Almeida (Antena 2) and Fernando Rocha (NUMÉRICA), who, enthusiastically and effectively made the realization of this undertaking possible.
Alejandro Erlich Oliva
Lisbon, 2007

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NUM 1181

Title: Música Contemporanea Portuguesa para Piano (Três Compositores Algarvios)

Artist: João Rosa – piano

Composers: Joaquim Galvão, Cristóvão Silva, Tiago Cutileiro

Joaquim Galvão
This Piano Sonatina was written in 2000 and is dedicated to João Luis Rosa. In a certain way, its three movements describe João’s psychological attributes. The first movement, strikingly rhythmic, well suits the enthusiasm and determination of the interpreter. The second movement immediately shifts towards a more dream-like and lyrical side.  The third, a harmonized song in the form of a chorale, brings to the fore João’s technical qualities. The work ends with a coda that sums up all of these facets.
The first movement is divided in three sections: A (measure 1 to 47), B (measure 47 to 101) and C (measure 101 until the end). It is written in a sonata form. The A section exposes the first and second themes followed by a small re-exposition. A development of the previously presented themes is carried out in the B section. Immediately we find a bridge that leads us to the C section, where the themes are recapitulated. The movement concludes with a small coda.
The second movement was built in a way that might be termed free. In spite of this, we find three very well defined sections. In the A section (measure 1 to 17), a theme is followed by its own variation. The B section (measure 17 to 24), more rhythmic, provides the bridge between the first and third sections. In the C section (measure 24 until the end), we return to the ambience found in the A section but with a more varied melody.
The third movement is constituted by an original theme and four variations, ending with a coda that recalls the second movement and also the rhythmic pattern of the first movement, thus bringing the work to its close.
This work was premiered on October 4, 2000, by João Luis Rosa at the Lagos Music Academy Auditorium.
Cristóvão Silva
Variações is a piece from 2001. The composition is based on the numeric series of Fibonacci (Italian mathematician of the 12th century). The work’s formal structure, its durations, melodies, rhythms and harmony are defined according to it (the series). After a brief introduction and presentation of the thematic material, these variations (five, in all) happen over one or more notes of the full chromatic collection, were we find them serially distributed throughout the entire tonal gamut of the piano. The intentional exploration of certain technical resources/characteristics of the instrument is clearly present:  chords, arpeggios, ostinatos, contrapuntal sections, etc.
Momentos is a work from 1995. The energetic introduction immediately announces the intervals that will be explored in its several moments (movements). These intervals are: the major second (2, in integer notation), the minor sixth (8), and the major seventh (11). This intervallic material begins to be developed just after the introduction, both in very strict sections (with just one interval) and in more expansive moments (employing two or more intervals). Certain aspects are characterized by the same ambience, while others diverge through opposition, creating intervallic environments, at times whirling, at others, meditative. This work has a funereal tone. It was written as I learned of the news of the death of a great friend and benefactor, Mr. Celestino Baptista, to whom the piece is dedicated.
Estudo Poético nº 1 is my most recent piano work. Written in 2008, this piece aims to be the first of a future book of studies. It was written with my good friend and colleague João Rosa in mind. The intention of this first study was to start from a somewhat “chaotic and unstable” environment and progressively lead the musical discourse to a more harmonically stable state as well as toward an elegiac and passionate tone. The first section of this study is characterized above all by syncopated and energetically interlaced rhythms with a harmony based on the interval 5 (perfect fourth). The second section, predominantly lyrical and sentimental, employs exclusively chords in triplets, in both hands, which defines a melody intentionally loaded with a strong romantic and passionate emphasis.
Policromia was written in 1992. This small piece is based on three brief rhythmic/melodic cells rather distinct from one another. Each one of these cells is presented, first, in isolation, but little by little they meld into one larger form. The final result is a small palette of timbre.
Metamorfose was written in 1996.  Basically, this worked is formed around two intervals that are announced immediately at the outset: the interval 1 (the minor second) and the interval 2 (the major second); and a rhythmic ostinato that sustains the entire piece. Once this initial material has been introduced, the musical discourse metamorphoses, acquiring new and different identities. The initial two-voice writing ends a three-part texture.
Prelúdio Extático, from1992, is nearly a meditation. Evoking a highly contemplative state of spirit, very intimate, somewhat erotic, of an intense and profound character, it was written in a pantonal language of an expressionist variety.
Tiago Cutileiro
In my work I seek the exaltation of sound as a living organism that transforms itself and is transformed in time. This research (obsession) runs contrary to the propositions of the common conception of music. The joining of sounds in melodic or harmonic elements creates expressive and communicative codes that deviate the raw material (sound) from its primordial essence. The sound becomes a communicative vehicle of its composer – the sounds create something that is beyond them, such as the sounds of the language that are lost in the decoding of its message. In my music, I hope, on the contrary, only to hear the sound (being born, living and disappearing) and to let it be expressive in itself, living in the “bubble of time” were I allow everything to happen. An art that distances itself from music, or music that distances itself from art. This is not a new idea (nothing really is), we can find this thought clearly expressed in the texts of John Cage and of other American experimentalists in the second half of the 20th century. But the origin of all this can be found even earlier, in the noises created by the Italian futurists or, in the final analysis, in the progressive abstraction implicit in Schoenberg’s serialism. What I seek to maintain, although subtlety, is control over the way that the sound object reaches the listener. During the listening process, the sound, always slow and long, establishes a drawing in time, which, although abstract and without a clear sense, brings its unique atmosphere and its original emotional outline to those willing to embrace it.
Para Flauta e Piano (for flute and piano) is composed from a mechanical unfolding of rhythm and melody, established by the piano, the main instrument of this piece, which is punctuated by the flute’s progressively lengthening notes. Formally it presents itself to the listener as if through-composed, mono-structural. There are no elements of rupture throughout the duration of the work. Even so, the elaboration process, independent for both instruments, allows the perception of almost evolutionary cycles, like long waves that renew themselves, but without direction. The flute and the general dynamic demarcate these cycles. While the piano’s musical process is based on the overlapping of melodic lines derived from three previously determined chords in a game of progressive displacement and reunion, the flute, using the same notes, possesses a formal reality akin to what one might observe in a piece by minimal artist Donald Judd. The final global form is the result of the superimposition of these two processual mechanisms.
Para Piano e Electrónica is integrated in a set of five pieces/studies for solo instrument and electronics propagated by four channels where each solo instrument interacts with a pre-programmed electronics broadcast in real time (the remaining studies are for cello, recorder, guitar and voice). There is a strong interaction between the musician and the machine where the sum of these elements produces a sonority detached from the visible instrument on stage. The electronics do not produce sound, they reflect or reshape the sound, dividing it spatially and temporally. All of the five pieces have more or less the same formal structure adapted to the classical and alternative interpretative specificities of each instrument. Divided in three parts – a rising energetic flow (in intensity and pitch), clearly culminating midway through the piece; a downward curve both in terms of dispersion and dissipation; and a final, calming repose, now deprived of gestural sense – these studies, especially in their first sections, diverge from my usual aesthetic language, since an orienting sense of the sound flow is perceptible, although always abstract. Still, that directionality is, in essence, geometric and rather basic. Once again, it is not an expressive intention, in the strict sense. In the recorded version, the four- channel diffusion has to be compressed within the stereo limits. The essential part of the initial spatial idea is maintained, however:  the sonorous pathway that gives way to the fragmentation




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