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Luis de FREITAS BRANCO (1890 - 1955)
Sonata No.1 para violino e piano (1907)
Sonata No.2 para violino e piano (1928)
Tibor Varga, violin - Roberto Szidon, piano
Recorded : Philharmonia Studio, Switzerland, January 1986
STRAUSS SP 4045 [49:54]

Luis de Freitas Branco, the forefather of 20th Century Portuguese music, played an important part in what might be referred to as the Portuguese Musical Renaissance by emancipating Portuguese music from its classical, late Romantic models.

The Sonata No. l para violino e piano was written in 1907 by a seventeen year old budding composer and was first performed in Lisbon in 1908. This youthful, exuberant work quite understandably relies heavily on some obvious models, such as Franck's Violin Sonata composed for Eugene Ysaye and is also at times redolent of Fauré. Franck's influence is quite clear in the cyclic structure of much of the music, though Freitas Branco's sunny lyricism is quite different from the older composer's passionate Romanticism. The First Violin Sonata is an ambitious piece of some substance and a very accomplished work in its own right. It is fluently written (Freitas Branco had played the violin in his early years) and abounds with wonderful tunes, whereas the cyclic organisation modelled on Franck enhances the structural coherence of the work. Quite an impressive piece of music.

The Sonata No. 2 para violino e piano was completed in 1928 and is thus a mature work. At that time Freitas Branco's music had moved towards a sort of Neo-Classicism which was to become one of the hallmarks of his maturity. The Second Violin Sonata is more classically structured than its predecessor. It may also be less spontaneous, though still brilliantly written. The thematic material is clear-cut, nicely shaped and, as a result, the Second Violin Sonata is beautifully proportioned. A fine work indeed, even if its lacks the freshness and spontaneity of its predecessor.

Both pieces are welcome additions to the catalogue and violinists who love Franck's sonata or those of his disciples (e.g. Lekeu or Magnard), should investigate these beautiful, little-known works by a major Portuguese composer.

Tibor Varga and Roberto Szidon play with evident relish and seem to enjoy the warm lyricism of the music enormously. These 1986 recordings, made in Switzerland, still sound very well.

Well worth investigating if you manage to find this.

Hubert Culot



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