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ClassicsOnline Home » Guitar Music from Brazil
The guitar has played a major part in the evolution of Brazilian music, especially during the twentieth century. On this recording the charm, beauty and sensuality of Brazilian guitar music can be heard in pieces as diverse as Marco Pereira’s Pixaim, a fast rhythmic dance originating from North-East Brazil, João Pernambuco’s cheeky Blackbird, the classic song Girl from Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim, a founder of the Bossa Nova movement and, from Brazil’s most famous composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, the hauntingly lyrical Sentimental Melody, written for the film Green Mansions in 1957.
Guitar Music from Brazil
The guitar has played a major part in the evolution of Brazilian music, especially throughout the twentieth century. As in Spain, the guitar is Brazil’s national instrument and is still the primary instrument used by many of Brazil’s most famous singer/songwriters of today, such as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, João Bosco and others. Most students of the classical guitar come across Brazilian music sooner or later during their studies. Many fall under the spell of its unique charm and beauty.
Marco Pereira is today one of Brazil’s most important guitarist composers. As a performer he has played all over the world and his many compositions
for guitar reflect the diverse rhythms and musical forms found in Brazil. Pixaim, which opens this recording, is a type of Frevo, a quite fast and rhythmic dance normally played by small orchestras with brass and percussion instruments. The dance originates from the North-East of Brazil and can especially be heard during Carnival time in places such as Recife and Olinda.
Plainte-Lamento is a beautiful and simple piece composed in the style of the Brazilian waltz. Num pagode em Planatina is a homage to the great singer/songwriter and guitarist, João Bosco. Planaltina is a small town in Brazil and pagode a kind of gathering where people meet to sing and dance mainly samba variants. Pereira captures brilliantly Bosco’s unique guitaristic style with string slaps, rhythmic taps and strummed chords.
The Brazilian Chôro form dates back to the late 1800s. A type of ensemble consisting of guitar, cavaquinho (a small guitar-shaped high-pitched instrument) and flute, would come together to play tangos, waltzes and polkas. Eventually the Chôro was born from these meetings. For a long time it was considered the music of the lower middle-class and was rarely accepted by the ruling classes. The Chôro, however, continued to develop and became very popular during the early years of the twentieth century.
One of Brazil’s Chôro pioneers was the guitarist João Pernambuco (1983–1947). He earned his living as an ironworker, but he was also an exceptional musician. His Sons de Carilhôes (Sound of Bells) is a Chôro that guitarists know and play throughout the world. I have
included two more of his compositions on this recording, the cheeky Grauna (Blackbird) and Po de Mico, that literally translates as “itching powder”.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Antonio Carlos Jobim (Tom Jobim) (1927–1994) was a founder of the Bossa Nova movement. His best known song must be Garota de Ipanema (Girl from Ipanema). Throughout his career Jobim wrote many wonderful compositions and classic
songs. One of the most beautiful pieces is called Luiza, arranged here for solo guitar by Marco Pereira.
Luis Bonfa (1922–2001), like Jobim, was responsible for bringing Bossa Nova to the masses. A talented guitarist and composer, he first became famous
for his song Manhã de Carnaval, composed for the film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus).
Sergio Assad and his brother, Odair, form the brilliant guitar duo, Duo Assad. In recent years Sergio has devoted more time to composition. Aquarelle was
written in 1986 for the famous Scottish guitarist, David Russell. The first movement, Divertimiento, is based on a three-note motif (D – B flat – C) heard at the beginning of the piece. This motif is heard throughout various registers as this movement develops. The middle movement, Valseana, is an inspired, beautiful melody that leads way to the Preludio e Tocatina. After the initial dreamy Preludio there follows a furiously fast and exciting Toccata that closes this piece.
Raphael Rabello (1962–1995) was a wonderful guitarist with extraordinary technical abilities. During his tragically short life (he was just 33 years old when he died), he achieved world-wide recognition. His composition Sete Cordas (Seven Strings) is a haunting homage to the seven-string Brazilian guitar he played so masterfully.
Egberto Gismonti is one of today’s best-known Brazilian musicians. His combination of Brazilian popular music forms mixed with improvisation have brought Gismonti a wide following. He has composed a vast amount of music and Agua e Vinho (Water and Wine) is a particular favourite of mine. Gismonti has
described Agua e Vinho as being inspired by the “mystery of Catholicism”, life’s basic element, a beautiful and contradictory combination.
Probably Brazil’s most famous composer is Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959). His Sentimental Melody was written for the film Green Mansions in 1957. Its haunting lyricism recalls the spirit and inventiveness of some of his Bachianas Brasilieras. It is here brilliantly arranged for guitar by the Brazilian guitarist, Carlos Barbosa-Lima.
Ronaldo Miranda was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1948. An extremely talented composer, Appassionata is his only composition for guitar to date. It is a virtuoso work filled with large passionate gestures, moments of melancholic reflection and lush harmonies.
It must finally be added that it was very hard to choose repertoire for this disc. There are so many other wonderful and important Brazilian composers with
lovely pieces that it would have been good to have included. Nevertheless the present recording may at least serve to whet the listener’s appetite for further investigation into the sensual and beautiful sound world of Brazilian music.
Graham Anthony Devine
I would like to dedicate this recording to my family and all my friends in Brazil. Special thanks to Alun Morgan, and also to Stuart Blagden for his dedication to Brazilian music and help with music scores.
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