Born in the Portuguese African colony of São Tomé, José Viana da Mota (1868–1948) started out as a child prodigy, performing on the piano at the age of six for Fernando II, a prince of Saxe-Coburg. Viana da Mota achieved worldwide recognition as one of the leading exponents of the Lisztian piano school, both as a concert soloist and as a chamber musician collaborating with such distinguished partners as fellow pianist Ferruccio Busoni, violinist Pablo Sarasate and soprano Marcella Sembrich. He also enjoyed a brilliant teaching career at both the Berlin and Geneva conservatories, and in 1917 the Portuguese government appointed him head of a committee charged with reforming the teaching programme and methods of the the Lisbon Conservatory, of which he then became Director two years later. For the next three decades he was responsible for training several of the most acclaimed Portuguese pianists of the generations. (grandpianorecords.com)
The most distinguished pianist of his generation, a brilliant pedagogue and a highly gifted composer, José Viana da Mota was a towering personality in the field of Portuguese music. Disapproving of modernistic compositional trends he stopped composing around 1910 but not before he had written his Symphony To the Homeland, a brilliantly orchestrated paean to Portuguese prowess and discovery which makes use of Portuguese folk dances and songs. Based on the dramatic life and murder of the 14th-century noblewoman Inês de Castro, Viana da Motas Lisztian symphonic poem is an early work notable for its kaleidoscopic sections full of inspiring contrasts. This recording presents the complete orchestral works of Viana da Mota. (taken from the original linernotes)
José Vianna Da Motta will remain in history books as one of the most remarkable pianists of the late 19th century, and said to surpass Liszt in technical brilliance. He may well have also gone on to be one of Portugal’s finest composers had the Second Viennese School never been born, for disillusioned by all they represented, he ceased composing in 1910. A student with Liszt and Hans von Bülow, his pedigree was founded in the Romantic era, as demonstrated in the four movements of his Sinfonia, A Patria (To the Homeland), a work completed in 1895 when he was twenty-seven. Its content is said to reflect his admiration for those who sailed from Portugal to make contact with people living in far distant places. After a purposeful opening, the long and yearning quality of the second slow movement, contrasts with the vivacity of the following dance and colourfully orchestrated finale. The tone poem, Ines de Castro, forms the central part of the disc—which contains all of his orchestral works—and relates the story of the young Portuguese crown-prince, Pedro, who is married to a Spanish princess, but falls in love with Ines, a young member of her retinue.
The King orders her to be murdered to bring an end to the romance, but on his coronation day Pedro has Ines body exhumed and placed next to him on the throne. Written when Viana was eighteen, it pictures a tender love mixed with their strong emotions towards each other. The disc concludes with four encore-length pieces in light and very happy mood. The distinguished Portuguese conductor, Álvaro Cassuto, continues his series that is bringing to our attention the seldom played symphonic music of his homeland. Here he has the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in fine form, the woodwind, who play such an important role in the Sinfonia, being particularly outstanding. The sound quality is very good. (by David Denton)
What more can I say ?
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Álvaro Cassuto
À Pátria – Sinfonia, Op. 13 (43:23):
01. Allegro Eroico 9.39
02. Adagio Molto 13.51
03. Vivace 6.13
04. Decadence – Fight – Resurgence 13.42
05. Inês De Castro – Tone Poem 13.27
06. Chula Do Douro 2.09
07. Três Improvisos Sobre Motivos Populares Portugueses 3.55
08. Vito 4.25
Music composed by José Viana da Mota