Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Paola Picherzky - Armando Neves, Outras Composições

Armando Neves (Armandinho), 1902-1976
The works for solo violão by Armando Neves (Armandinho) have been rediscovered in recent years and widely appreciated thanks to the CD recording of a selection of his choros by Paola Picherzky in 2008. I made a small review of the CD earlier, here - You have the opportunity to listen to the full album at YouTube, here
A career profile of Armando Neves (- in Portuguese) is available here, and a short profile of Paola Picherzky (- in English) is available here. 
CD front, Armando Neves, Outras Composições Indepente (Tratore), 2015
Earlier this year Paola Picherzky released the new CD shown above featuring fifteen more compositions for solo violão by Armando Neves, a great supplement to her recording of eighteen of his choros from 2008. The new CD includes only one composition registered as a choro (Choro 7), the remaining tracks are devoted to compositions in other musical genres such as Canção, Valsa, Maxixe, Estudio, Preludio and Gavota, or to music with individual titles but without the stating of the genre. A tracklist of the featured repertoire is available here 
Paola Picherzky
The interpretation of the music at the CD is excellent and done with empathy and flawless mastery of the technical challenges, the result is a very listenable CD that highlights both the beauty of Armando Neves' compositions and Paola Picherzky's capacity as a guitarist and soloist. The CD is highly recommended and is available for purchase as download in mp3 format here 
- To end this, I insert Paola Picherzsky's interpretation of Armando Neves' well known Choro nº2, here from a TV presentation  - enjoy!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Centennial of Garoto

Let's commemorate the centennial of the birth of the great Anibal Augusto Sardiha, better known under his artist name, Garoto (28.06.1915 - 03.05.1955). The best way to celebrate a multi talented musician and composer like Garoto is to play some of his music. Thus, below I'll insert some examples from his recorded legacy.

A choro composed by Garoto, Amoroso, recorded 1942 featuring Carolina Cardoso de Menezes is a highlight of his playing of the guitarra havaiana 

Another choro from 1942 composed by Garoto is Quanto doi a saudade, showcasting the violão tenor

Garoto was also a master of the bandolim, here is  an example,  Aranca-toco from 1950

Also from 1950 the inevitable and magnificent tour-de-force, Desvairada, the original version for bandolim

From the private recordings made 1950s featuring Garoto on solo violão, Inspiração

Also from the 1950s private solo sessions of solo violão, to end this - Lamentos do Morro


Monday, May 25, 2015

Homenagem à Chiquinha Gonzaga

Chiquinha Gonzaga (1877)
Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935) is considered the first important female composer and performer of popular music in Brazil. She was born as an illegitimate child, but fortunately her farther recognized her as his own and provided her with an education that included musical training. She participated in piano recitals throughout her youth and demonstrated execeptional skill. Her desire at a young age to pursue music professionally, however, was abandoned by her family. At age 13 she was forced into an arranged marriage but by 18 had already left her husbund to become a single mother, who played the piano to support her children. As a result of this she was declared dead by her former family! However, over time Chiquinha succeeded in making a living and a name for herself as a performer, composer and piano teacher.

Gonzaga was the first female to be allowed attending the social and musical fraternity of choro musicians, helped by her friend Joaquin Calado -the first composer of music in the choro style. Chiquinha started composing in the choro style too and had success with the piece "Corta-jaca" from 1897. Later she would be engaged in composing and arranging music for the popular theater. She was also a dedicated participant in the abolition movement and engaged further in the protection of authors' and composers' rights. By the time of her death in 1935, her musical works included a great number of theater pieces as well as sacred music, besides popular music including maxixes, marches and choros. Her legacy as an important composer of Brazilian popular music continues today. - The official website dedicated to the legacy of Chiquinha Gonzaga (in Portuguese only) is accessible here and the digital archive of Gonzaga's compositions is accessible here 

This year it has been 80 years since Chiquinha Gonzaga's passing, and her life story has been dramatized in a TV production in Brazil to commenmorate her importance in the nation's music and culture. Among other initiatives to commenmorate Chiquinha Gonzaga, a new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira  paying tribute to Gonzaga's music has been released recently and is presented here.
The new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira
The CD has twelve tracks and the music is excellently performed by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira. The trio comprises André Ribeiro (bandolim), Priscila Matos (piano) and Roberto Amaral (pandeiro). The CD is the trio's second release - the first was issued in 2012 titled De Três em Três (- earlier mentioned here).
Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira, l-r: Roberto Amarel, Priscila Matos, André Ribeiro
Chiquinha Gonzaga's music is influenced by both European popular styles such as polka, mazurka and waltz as well as tango, lundu and maxixe a.o., and the various styles reflected in her work as a composer characterize her as a major transitional figure pioneering and helping to shape the direction of a genuine Brazilian music which - together with the compositions by Ernesto Nazareth - may be considered the roots of choro. Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere and expression of Gonzaga's music in a contemporary setting. The rhythmic pulse of the featured pieces at the CD is heavily influenced by the habanera and syncopation, which provides the musical themes from a long gone romantic 'belle epoche' a contemporary appeal - the music of Chiquinha Gonzaga is still able to seduce the attentive listener when performed by skilled musicians like Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira. - A short presentation of the contained music at the CD has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted here 

Chiquinha Gonzaga was a piano player and used the piano to write famous pieces like 'Corta-jaca' - now a standard of the choro repertoire - here performed in its first presentation on record by Grupo Chiquinha Gonzaga

The piano player of Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira, Priscila Matos, has uploaded some examples of her interpretation of Gonzaga's pieces, which I'll insert below. - Here is first Priscila Matos' version of 'Corta-jaca', also known as 'Gaucho'

Chiquinha Gonzaga had her first public success with a composition titled 'Atraente', a polka/choro from 1877 also adopted by the choro standard book, here performed by Priscila Matos

To end this, here is Priscila Matos' version of Chiquinha Gonzaga's maxixe 'Mulher Homem', recorded at the session featured at the new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira

The CD Homenagem à Chiquinha Gonzaga by Conjunto  Subindo a Ladeira is highly recommend and is available for purchase as mp3 download from Amazon, here

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Choro Nórdica - New CD From Tresafinado

CD front: Choro Nórdica (Tresafinado Records, T1403 - Gateway Music)
The Danish-Brazilian trio Tresafinado from Copenhagen - consisting of flautist Pia Kaufmanas, guitarist Torsten Borbye Nielsen, and the Brazilian drummer and percussionist, Afonso Corrêa - was established 1998. Tresafinado has performed with a repertoire based on the Spanish and South-American music tradition and has also co-operated with Danish choir ensembles performing religious music. Tresafinado's first two CD recodings reflected the trio's engagement in the mentioned fields of music. The third CD was recorded in Rio de Janeiro 2010 and showcasted the trio's devotion to the Brazilian choro, released 2011 with the title 'Lúdico' and featuring four acknowledged musicians from Rio's choro community: Mauricio Carrilho (violão 7 cordas), Pedro Aragão (bandolim), Luciana Rabello (cavaquinho), and Nailor Proveta (clarinet). The 'Lúdico' CD mainly contained material in the choro genre composed by Tresafinado's guitarist, Torsten Borbye Nielsen. As mentioned, the CD was released 2011 and in 2012 Tresafinado arranged a concert tour of Denmark together with the four mentioned Brazilian guest musicians presenting the material recorded at the 'Lúdico' CD. Both the CD and a broadcasted concert from the tour have earlier been reviewed at this blog (- you may look up both reviews following this link, here ). - Earlier this month Tresafinado released the trio's fourth CD titled 'Choro Nórdica', a follow-up of the successful Lúdico' CD.
l-r: front row: Pedro Aragão, Torsten Borbye Nielsen, Luciana Rabello, Nailor Proveta - back row: Afonso Corrêa, Pia Kaufmanas, Mauricio Carrilho
The new CD by Tresafinado, 'Choro Nórdica', was recorded 2012-2014 in Copenhagen and continues the co-operation with the four mentioned Brazilian musicians in five tracks that were recorded during the concert tour of Denmark in 2012, the remaining seven tracks are recorded in 2014 and are by Tresafinado alone including two tracks in a solo or duet setting. The repertoire of the CD includes seven choro compositions by guitarist Torsten Borbye Nielsen, five of them in arrangements for the extended Tresafinado with Brazilian guest musicians, the remaining two are two waltzes, 'Valsa singela' by the trio, and 'Garda', a solo piece for guitar performed by Borbye Nielsen. Further there are included two compositions by Danish jazz pianist Thomas Clausen,'Ciao Brasil' and 'Hope for Malala', in arrangements by Tresafinado and there is a version of Brazilian accordeonist Chico Chagas' 'Pra Paulo' by the trio. Finally, a choro by Mauricio Carrilho dedicated to flautist Kaufmanas, 'Choro pra Pia' and a duet version of Pixinguinha's 'Lamentos' in an arrangement by Brazilian guitarist Marco Pereira adapted by Tresafinado and here performed by Kaufmanas and Borbye Nielsen. - As was the case with the 'Lúdico' CD, the new CD by Tresafinado provides excellent arrangements and performance at a high artistic level, the compositions by Borbye Nielsen fit perfectly in a contemporary context of choro interpretation and the performance by all involved leaves a most pleasant impression of a genuine Brazilian music with a touch of Scandinavian 'coolness' added to the warmth of southern climes. I highly recommend the CD as an example of an up to date choro release and further as yet another successful exchange of ideas between an European and South American music tradition, every track is extremely well performed and in supreme audio - a must have for all interested in contemporary choro tradition.

The 'Choro Nórdica' CD is available by contacting Tresafinado's web, here or as download from iTunes, here - Audio clips available at Tresafinado's web and you may listen to the CD in streaming audio at Spotify.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Anniversary of Pixinguinha & Choro Day

On the 23rd of April it is 118 years since the birth of Pixinguinha. During the past 15 years this date has been officially celebrated in Brazil as Dia Nacional do Choro in honor of Pixinguinha and his importance for choro and Brazilian music. Here I will follow this tradition and commemorate Pixinguinha's genius by inserting some examples of his music. And why not start with a birthday tune composed by the master and here performed by Jacob do Bandolim - TEU ANIVERSÁRIO

This choro by Pixinguinha is the same tune as RECORDANDO, which Pixinguinha recorded for Odeon in 1934

The peak period of Pixinguinha's long career probably was during his cooperation with Benedito Lacerda in the 1940s. Fact is that many of the classic choros by Pixinguinha/Lacerda from this period are still performed today, a.o. INGêNUO

In a TV show from 1997 Época de Ouro performed INGêNUO a.o. featuring Ronaldo do Bandolim playing the melody

1997 was the centennial of Pixinguinha's birth that was celebrated all over Brazil in various events. A TV transmited concert from one of these celebrations has been uploaded in a complete version at YouTube and is inserted here to mark the anniversary of Pixinguinha and Choro Day - sit back and enjoy the show


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Choro Vivo - A Danish Choro Trio

Choro Vivo
Thanks to globalization and the internet knowledge about choro music has spread outside Brazil during the past fifteen years. Today there are musicians all over the world playing choro inspired by the great Brazilian performers of the past and present. Here I like to introduce a Danish choro ensemble from Copenhagen - Choro Vivo that has just released a debut CD.

Martin Heap, 7 string guitar, cavaquinho
Choro Vivo was formed by Martin Heap in January 2010. Martin Heap (b.1974) has studied guitar at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and graduated in 2003. In 2001 he visited Rio de Janeiro for the first time and was inspired to explore and play choro. As a result, he stayed in Rio from 2004 to 2007 and studied with the renowned choro guitarist Mauricio Carrilho and was introduced to the Cariocan choro community. In 2005 Martin Heap produced a CD  featuring a choro ensemble named Choro Brasil Scandinavia that included himself and another Scandinavian guitarist besides three well known Brazilian musicians. The CD and the ensemble was presented in live performance in Copenhagen, July 2005 (- you can read more about Choro Brasil Scandinavia following this link ). Thanks to his many contacts in Brazil Martin Heap has organized a pioneering work in Denmark to introduce choro to the public, and his enthusiasm and initiative has so far also resulted in the formation of the trio Choro Vivo in 2010. The original formation of the trio comprised violinist Alexander Kraglund (b. 1985) and guitarist Bjarke Mulder (b. 1980) besides Martin Heap on 7 string guitar and cavaquinho. Today Choro Vivo has two new members replacing Kraglund and Mulder.

Martin Buono, guitar
Martin Buono (b.1986) has studied classical guitar at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and graduated as soloist in 2014. He is the one part of the prizewinning Copenhagen Guitar Duo excelling in the classical guitar repertoire. Martin Buono has also studied flamenco guitar in Spain and is involved in other music projects besides Choro Vivo, learn more at his official website, here 

Marco Spallanzani, bandolim
 Marco Spallanzani is from Modena, Italy, but has been living in Copenhagen since 1985. He has studied guitar at the rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen and graduated 1992.Besides playing guitar Marco Spallanzani is a composer, arranger and tutor, he also plays other string instruments than guitar and has specialized in playing bandolim in Choro Vivo. Learn more about his career and other projects at the official website, here 

Choro Vivo, CD front (Gateway Music, 2015)
The debut CD of Choro Vivo was recorded last year and released earlier this month by Gateway Music in a downloadable version, here and is also available in streaming audio at the website of Choro Vivo. The CD has nine tracks, the repertoire is devoted to well known classic choro compositions in arrangements by Choro Vivo. Some tracks have guest appearance by accordionist Fransesco Cali , percussionist Afonso Corrêa and Brazilian guitarist Glauber Seixas.

Choro Vivo with guest performers
The first track, 'Odeon' (Ernesto Nazareth), is the trio's interpretation of the well known tune and showcasting the bandolim as lead voice. Next tune is Pixinguinha's 'Um A Zero' featuring the trio extended with accordionist Francesco Cali, percussionist Afonso Corrêa and Glauber Seixas on 7 string guitar - the tune has great playing by all including solo exchange and improvisation by Spallanzani's bandolim and Cali's accordion. Then follows Anacleto de Medeira's 'Yara' by the trio showcasting Martin Heap on the cavaquinho as solo voice, Martin Buono on guitar and Glauber Seixas on 7 string guitar replacing Spallanzani. Next, two more classics by Pixinguinha, 'Os Oitos Batutas' and 'Naquele Tempo' - the last mentioned extended with Cali on accordion, while 'Os Oitos Batutas' adds Corrêa on percussion. A choro by Paulinho da Viola influenced by the guitar style of Canhoto da Paraíba, 'Rosinha, essa Menina' is next featuring great playing by Martin Buono and exemplary support by Heap and Spallanzani, and this is followed by an excellent arrangenment and reading of Villa-Lobos' 'Mazurka-Choro' by the trio. The two remaining tracks are devoted to a reading of Jacob do Bandolim's 'Feia' and E.Nazareth's 'Travesso' - the last mentioned has also been recorded in a live presentation uploaded at YouTube and is inserted below to give you an impression of Choro Vivo in performance.

It's a thrill to learn that choro music is taken good care of and presented with due respect to and affirmative understanding of the Brazilian tradition by Choro Vivo - the future of choro in Denmark looks bright with the release of the trio's debut CD, definitly recommended!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Yamandú Costa - Tocata À Amizade

Yamandú Costa (Photo: Anderson Silva)
The New CD by Yamandú Costa Tocata À Amizade (Biscoito Fino) is a splendid example of a deliberate smoothing of the boundaries between classical art music and popular tradition. Generally, in the Western tradition erudite musical composition has enjoyed primacy of popular traditions, while it has not been pronounced in Brazilian music culture.Among other aspects, this means that improvisation or free musical expression has been severely limited within the framework of traditonel Western classical art music, although previously rudiments to consider improvisation as an essential aspect of musical expression have been applied to sudden musical forms. These include for the type of compositions, which are known as toccatas.
Sheet book front
The encyclopedia definiton of a toccata reads: Toccata (from Italian toccare, "to touch") is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections, with or without imitative or fugal interludes, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer's fingers.This msusical form has been developed since the late Renaissance and its best known example probably is J.S. Bach's  Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565). His toccatas for organ are improvisatory compositions, and are often followed by an independent fugue movement. You can read more about this musical form and are further able to listen to examples, here 
CD front: Tocata À Amizade  (Illustration by Elifas Andreato)
According to the info at the Biscoito Fino website,  the new CD by Yamandú Costa pays tribute not only to musicians he admires, but also to the art of playing an instrument. Quote: "We, who play popular music, have this custom of meetings, evening parties, in which we exchange information, learn new songs. In this CD I wanted to make an allusion to this very common and very natural practice among us." The idea of recording the CD came from an invitation that Yamandú received from the Louvre Museum Auditorium in Paris. "They ordered me a piece, I wanted to show some of the popular music of Brazil, so I wrote the suite “Impressões brasileiras”, for about four years." The suite opens the CD and consists of four parts: 1-Choro-tango, 2-Valsa, 3-Frevo-canção and 4-Baionga. The suite is followed by two new compositions by Yamandú: Negra Baiarina and Boa Viagem, both are examples of informal toccatas. Next follow two compositions paying tribute to two major figures in Brazilian guitar tradition, Pedra do Leme by Raphael Rabello/Toquinho and Graúna by João Pernambuco. The CD closes with a reading and interpretation of Radamés Gnatalli's 'Suite Retratos' in four parts, named after the composers in Brazilian tradition each of them portrays: Pixinguinha - Ernesto Nazareth - Anacleto de Medeiros - Chiquinha Gonzaga. Yamandú explains: "In my view, this cousin of Radames' work perfectly portrays the dialogue between schools of classical music and popular. (...) We rehearsed a lot to get this much free result that is on the disc." The CD thus underlines the dialogue between classical and popular music in Brazilian tradition, and the title Tocata À Amizade further points to the fact that this dialogue is not with the intention of provoking a polite audience, but to emphasize the friendship between two equal musical expressions and further the friendship between the musicians who perform the music at the CD.In truth, a musical project based on fixed frames which allow for free expression and improviasation, a well known and respected approach within choro music and related, popular Brazilian genres.
Yamandú Costa Quartet in performance (photo by Paulo Cartolano)
All tracks of the CD were recorded in a quartet setting, and Yamandú (violão de 7 cordas de naylon) brings together musicians Rogerio Caetano (violão 7 cordas de aço), Luis Barcelos (bandolim de 10 cordas and arrangements of “Suite Impressões brasileiras” ) and Alessandro Bebê Kramer on accordion. - To give you an impression of the music featured at the CD, I'll insert some uploaded examples from previously recorded live performance by the quartet. Here is first a live presentation of Radamés Gnatalli's 4º movimento Retratos (Chiquinha Gonzaga) from the Suite Retratos

Next, here is a presentation by Yamandú Costa quartet of João Pernambuco's Graúna

Finally, to end this presentation of Yamandú Costa's new CD, here is the quartet performing Pedra do Leme by Raphael Rabello/Toquinho

The Tocata À Amizade CD is available for purchase as mp3 downloads at Amazon, hereand iTunes, here