- Symphony No. 4 (Sinfonia Da Paz)
- Ponteio, for string orchestra
- Symphony No. 9
- Frevo, for string orchestra
Claudio Santoro is not quite Brazil's best composer of European-style "classical" music -- there is, after all, Heitor Villa-Lobos -- but he is a very close second. Santoro's control of the harmonies and structures of classical music is perhaps more complete than Villa-Lobos and his ability to fuse those elements with the melodies and rhythm of Brazil is possibly more convincing. What he lacks is Villa-Lobos' wit and exuberance, but these are relatively small things compared with his accomplishments. In this disc of his "Fourth" and "Ninth" symphonies along with two shorter works, "Frevo for full orchestra" and "Ponteio for string orchestra," Santoro puts his best foot forward and the results are quite impressive. Although clearly twentieth century works, Santoro's "Fourth" and "Ninth" are still tonal and still in readily graspable forms and anyone who enjoys the symphonies of Hanson, Harris, or Copland will have no problem enjoying them. Beyond that, Santoro's melodic energy and rhythmic power put him slightly ahead of his North American contemporaries in terms of sheer strength of invention. In these brilliantly conducted and superbly played recordings by John Neschling and the São Paulo Symphony with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra Choir in the choral finale of the "Fourth," Santoro's music is given as persuasive a set of performances as is imaginable, performances at once wholly professional, entirely dedicated and completely compelling. For a taste of what Santoro can do, try just "Ponteio," a ravishingly lovely work given a performance of total commitment by Neschling and the strings of the São Paulo Symphony. Although far from its native Sweden, BIS' recording is as clear, as warm, and as deep as its best European productions.