Thursday, December 31, 2009

E.Nazareth, For Dancers Only!

Ever since the music of Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934) was introduced to an American and international public with a helping hand from Disney and Zé Carioca in cartoons of the 1940s as pointed out by Daniella Thompson in an article, it was soon swallowed up by the pop-industry outside Brazil to make it digestable for a mainstream audience devoting its tastes to light entertainment, dance and an Americanized understanding of Brasilian culture. Only in recent years another understanding and appreciation of Nazareth's works is beginning to unearth, mainly thanks to great initiatives taken by ragtime societies in the US, and, not least, the magnificient work directed by the Brasilian researcher and pianist, Alexandre Dias, who by now has published the result of his research in an official website devoted to the works of E. Nazareth including free access to all 218 registered scores in a revised version, a milestone in preserving this musical heritage for future generations. The website is definitely worth a visit for serious followers of Nazareth and can be launched here.

However, like choro musicians were among the first to embrace the music of E. Nazareth and make it a part of the standard repertoire at rodas, in radio and recording sessions thus spreading it to the public all over Brazil, it is also of historical importance to remember and recognise how this music was received and percieved by the music scene outside Brazil. Among the renown ambassordors in spreading the music of Nazareth to a larger public through performance, recordings and participation in movies was bandleader Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band,during the 1940s and 1950s a highly popular ensemble of the time. I found a couple of examples on YouTube featuring the audiotracks of compositions by E.Nazareth as interpretated by Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band - the first features 'Apanhei-te cavaquinho' as recorded in 1945, enjoy!

Here's a recording from about the same time of Nazareth's maxixe-tango, "Dengoso"

The lasting quality of the music performed by musicians like Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band depends on the ability of such bands to make the output danceable. And if you don't think that it's possible to dance to the music of E. Nazareth after listening to the video-tracks above, let Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers show you how it's done:

A Feliz Ano Novo - A Happy New Year 2010! to readers of this blog, that counts its entry no 200 since June 2006.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Naquele Tempo - Roland Dyens plays Pixinguinha

The importance of the music of Pixinguinha (1898-1973) cannot be overestimated, his works as a musician, composer and arranger continue to inspire musicians worldwide. Choro ensembles were the first to embrace the music of Pixinguinha, which is not so strange, as Pixinguinha redefined the choro and had a lasting impact on the conception of the genre through his compositions and recorded legacy. Pixinguinha is the founder of the choro as it is performed today, and both erudite and popular musicians have taken advantage of the guidelines drawn by the master. Villa-Lobos was a great admirer of Pixinguinha and so was Radamés Gnattali, and countless musicians, amateurs as well as erudite, have found a profound inspiration in his works. Here we'll concentrate on a new cd devoted to music composed by Pixinguinha and performed as a solo recital by classical guitarist Roland Dyens.

One of the qualities of Pixinguinha's music is his choice of simple, beautiful melodies reflecting a classical conception of harmony and arranged with a multi-layered understanding of instrumental voices, and then add to this the always sensible rhythmic pulse of African origins that makes the output a sparkling and swinging affair when performed as intended by the composer. The music of Pixinguinha is a challenge to perform as a soloist, whatever the instrument chosen; it demands complete understanding and demand of the instrument's range to cover all nuances. When it comes to performing Pixinguinha's music on the guitar/violão in a solo recital, the shown cd above comes close to the perfect match. Roland Dyens has a done a magnificent work transcribing 11 of Pixinguinha's compositions for solo guitar, and the performance of the recorded pieces is marvellous, a brillant excersise that captures the soul of the music and draws the attention of the listener. The cd is highly recommended to everyone with an open ear for the possibilities of the classical solo guitar, a great experience that makes repeated listening a simple 'must' to explore nuances further. Roland Dyens shows off a contempory understanding of Pixinguinha's music, that never neglects the intention of the composer, but completes it in a perfectly excecuted recital recorded in high quality audio by GSP. - Learn more about the contents of the cd by clicking cd-cover above or here

Roland Dyens (b.1955 in Tunisia) is a Tunisian-French classical guitarist, composer, and arranger. Dyens studied guitar with the Spanish master guitarist Alberto Ponce and analysis with Désiré Dondeyne. He has won several prizes in competitions for classical guitar performance as well as for composition. As a performer, Dyens is known for his extraordinary capacity for improvisation. His guitar music draws on many elements of folk music and jazz, and has become popular with other players. Learn more about Roland Dyens at his official web-site, click here

A more extensive review of the cd 'Naquele Tempo' is found here

'Tango en Skaï (1985), is probably the best-known piece composed by Roland Dyens, and as I did not find a video showing a perfomance by Dyens playing Pixinguinha I'll insert a performance of the mentioned 'Tango en Skai' to give you an opportunity to enjoy a remarkable modern master of the classical concert guitar

To end this, here's a performance of the well known tango 'El Choclo' as arranged and played by Roland Dyens, enjoy!