Almeida Prado: Sinfonia dos Orixás / Thomson, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

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José Antônio de Almeida Prado was one of the most admired Brazilian composers of his time. The two stylistically diverse works featured on this album exemplify different creative periods in the composer’s life. The prize-winning Pequenos funerais cantantes, which was Almeida Prado’s breakthrough as a composer, is a lament full of unique soundworlds forged from different combinations of choral and orchestral writing. The superbly orchestrated Sinfonia dos Orixás takes as its subject the Orishas (deities in the Yoruba religion) – and is a personal tribute to the rich Afro-Brazilian religious traditions, a sumptuous melodic and rhythmic feast celebrating the forces of nature.


In his music, color and emotion were inextricably interwoven with the more technical aspects of his scores. His music can be described in words, but these words fail to convey its impact, which is not really definable. This music is never predictable. It always surprises the listener. It is a shame that he’s almost virtually ignored outside Brazil.

The Symphony of the Orishas, composed in 1984-85, is a masterpiece of extraordinary invention and complexity. Words do it little justice, you really need to hear and experience it for yourself. Nothing I say is going to convey the full power, richness and emotional impact of this score. Suffice it to say that I’ve heard absolutely nothing like it in a half-century of reviewing music. All I will say is that it is not at all a conventional symphony using theme and development, but rather a veritable cornucopia of sound, color and motion.

Neil Thomson is an excellent conductor who fully enters the spirit of these scores; he manages to sound Brazilian even though he isn’t. This is one of those very rare albums whose totality is greater than the sum of its parts. This is certainly one of the most interesting and culturally important releases ever put on the market.

-- The Art Music Lounge (Lynn René Bayley)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: May 26, 2023

  • Catalog Number: 8574411

  • UPC: 747313441174

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Jose Antonio de Almeida Prado

  • Conductor: Neil Thomson

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra


  1. Pequenos funerais cantantes ao poeta Carlos Maria de Araújo

    Composer: José Antônio de Almeida Prado

    Ensemble: São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony Choir

    Performer: Clarissa Cabral (Mezzo-Soprano), Sabah Teixeira (Bass-Baritone)

    Conductor: Neil Thomson

  2. Sinfonia dos orixás

    Composer: José Antônio de Almeida Prado

    Ensemble: São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Neil Thomson