The Quarteto com piano, op. 28 (1957) was dedicated to the Quarteto de Lisboa, who gave the first performance in May 1957, in Würzburg (Germany), in the presence of the composer. A work of relatively modest dimensions (275 measures, c. 15 'duration), it sets in relief the single movement form (with several internal 'tempo' oscillations), thus being an example of a 'condensation' of the form, realised in this case by cyclical recurrence and by renewing the sonata form. Thus, the work attempts a personal synthesis of 'Franckism' (much practiced by his master, Luís de Freitas Branco) along with examples in late Mahler and Schönberg *1.
The Quartet opens with the 1st thematic group (in d), impetuous and heroic, whose rhythm refers to the French 'Ouverture' of the Baroque. This is opposed by a 2nd thematic group (in Lydian mode), first presented on the piano ('Meno mosso'), of a serene and lyrical character *2. The elaboration of the material occurs through variation, reminiscence, textual recurrence and by interim developments, within a modal harmonic thinking. The 1st recurrence of Group 1 brings with it a secondary idea, as also happens shortly after with Group 2. The 2nd recurrence of Group 1 (with said secondary idea now aggregated) signals a final development to which Joly Braga Santos confers an eminently symphonic dimension that extends through the Coda *3. It is a work that demonstrates a constant care for balance: a) in the way it treats the instruments: whether it is concerted, homophonic writing, accompanied melody or in unison, it is always framed in clear, fluid, well-defined and delimited textures; b) in the way it unfolds rhetorically, articulating itself in a succession of tensive and distensive periods that give an undulating appearance to the overall balance of the work.