The Music of Brazil - Naxos series

Started by Brian, September 19, 2022, 08:03:25 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Roy Bland

IMHO is better Brasilia's Symphony

Brian

Quote from: Roy Bland on February 28, 2024, 05:18:40 PMIMHO is better Brasilia's Symphony

I am listening to this now...

A retirada da laguna is a 41-minute programmatic suite and it is a charming one full of colorful episodes, tunes, fun orchestration. It feels a lot like film music. I know that may be a troublesome thing to say on this forum right now  ;D  ;D but it does sound like a good movie soundtrack. (It isn't; it was written for concert.)

The 12-minute Violin Concertino is the least overtly patriotic/Brazilian piece by Guerra-Peixe so far in the Naxos catalogue, but it still has echoes of other global folk traditions - the slow movement's violin part has rustic fiddling that reminds me of Bartok or Appalachia. And the finale definitely brings to mind a South American street scene. (The duetting flutes definitely remind me of music I heard in Guatemala.)

Museu da inconfidencia is fascinating for a few reasons. First, it's written to depict a history museum! That's a new level compared to Pictures at an Exhibition. Second, "inconfidência" is an interesting word for the etymology enthusiasts here. It indicates a rebellion by a separatist movement, so it uses "confidence" in the sense of a no-confidence vote. Third, it's a four-movement short work with an opening fanfare, a grindingly painful lament for the fallen rebels, and two rather jovial, sardonic dance episodes depicting enslaved Brazilian peoples' culture and solidarity against their oppressors.

In short, this disc is a 100% winner, just like the previous Guerra-Peixe volume. The booklet mentions the Brasilia Symphony. I wonder if Naxos will record it? Looks like the only way to listen now is on YouTube.


Roasted Swan

Quote from: Brian on March 26, 2024, 12:37:21 PMI am listening to this now...

A retirada da laguna is a 41-minute programmatic suite and it is a charming one full of colorful episodes, tunes, fun orchestration. It feels a lot like film music. I know that may be a troublesome thing to say on this forum right now  ;D  ;D but it does sound like a good movie soundtrack. (It isn't; it was written for concert.)

The 12-minute Violin Concertino is the least overtly patriotic/Brazilian piece by Guerra-Peixe so far in the Naxos catalogue, but it still has echoes of other global folk traditions - the slow movement's violin part has rustic fiddling that reminds me of Bartok or Appalachia. And the finale definitely brings to mind a South American street scene. (The duetting flutes definitely remind me of music I heard in Guatemala.)

Museu da inconfidencia is fascinating for a few reasons. First, it's written to depict a history museum! That's a new level compared to Pictures at an Exhibition. Second, "inconfidência" is an interesting word for the etymology enthusiasts here. It indicates a rebellion by a separatist movement, so it uses "confidence" in the sense of a no-confidence vote. Third, it's a four-movement short work with an opening fanfare, a grindingly painful lament for the fallen rebels, and two rather jovial, sardonic dance episodes depicting enslaved Brazilian peoples' culture and solidarity against their oppressors.

In short, this disc is a 100% winner, just like the previous Guerra-Peixe volume. The booklet mentions the Brasilia Symphony. I wonder if Naxos will record it? Looks like the only way to listen now is on YouTube.

Complete agreement - a really enjoyable/interesting/impressive disc both in terms of the repertoire and the performances.  I enjoyed the earlier Guerra-Peixe on Naxos too but thought that this was perhaps even more impressive.  Like you, I hope that if there is a 3rd Naxos volume of this composer's work it includes the Symphony No.2 'Brasilia'.  Call me a cynic but I wonder if Latin American music does not get the same attention as other 'deserving' composers for political/social agenda rather than qualitative musical ones.

Brian



Reisado do pastoreio is a 13-minute suite of light folksy music from which the finale, "Batuque," has become a major pops hit - it's on all kinds of Brazilian compilation albums and was recorded by Bernstein among others.

If you're expecting more folk fun like "Batuque" in Fernandez' two symphonies, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that his symphonies on the whole are deliberate attempts to offer a more abstract, Euro-styled musical language that fits into the world symphonic tradition. The good news is they're pretty great, and definitely contain very Brazilian moments.

Symphony No. 1 has an overall humid, melodramatic feel. Its indisputable highlight is the scherzo, a 6-minute super-Brazilian knockout of a piece that's like an even better sequel to "Batuque." It's colorful, immaculately crafted, amazingly orchestrated, full of tunes, and ridiculously fun. The rest of the symphony has a much more foreboding character, with darkness coming more easily to the composer. The slow movement in particular is outright tragic, with a climax that sounds adjacent to a funeral march. After that despair, the finale opens with a French horn fanfare and then a Walton-like mix of heroic rejoicing and complex, somewhat foreboding brass harmonies. To some extent, this is a false front, because the movement alternates this optimism with slower, more minor-key episodes. Only the percussion (including a bit where xylophone and flutes duet) really clues you in to the Brazilian origin of the material, until, maybe, the fanfares ring out again at the end.

Symphony No. 2 is based on an epic poem about a Portuguese explorer. The explorer is portrayed as a hero for leading an expedition into the Amazon jungle and fighting natives to find an emerald mine - which sounds more like straightforward greed today. At any rate, the symphony is programmatic, depicting his exploration, conflict, success, and eventual death, still in the jungle and delirious from fever, clutching his bag of gems.

There's a much more filmic quality to this music. The violins play high harmonics to evoke the primal mystery of the jungle; the percussion section gets a full workout; there is a more overtly Latin American feel to the melodic material. Although melodies resurface, the movements are treated like symphonic poems rather than traditional sonata forms. The most conventional section may be the slow movement, "lento e lamentoso," presumably describing the hero's death. The finale is an excitable burst of color: violins sing a strange theme while muted brass suggest sinister jungle surroundings. It's a short finale, and it ends with a fluttering string tremolo and a sudden descent to silence.

Fernandez died shortly after finishing the Symphony No. 2, before it could be premiered, at the too-young age of 50. Haunting to hear that sudden, tragic, quiet ending and realize that it is the composer's ending, too. If he'd lived to a proper age, who knows how many more colorful, interesting symphonies he could have left us, full of memorable moments.

Performance and sound are, as usual for this series, superb.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Brian on June 26, 2024, 07:19:56 AM

Reisado do pastoreio is a 13-minute suite of light folksy music from which the finale, "Batuque," has become a major pops hit - it's on all kinds of Brazilian compilation albums and was recorded by Bernstein among others.

If you're expecting more folk fun like "Batuque" in Fernandez' two symphonies, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that his symphonies on the whole are deliberate attempts to offer a more abstract, Euro-styled musical language that fits into the world symphonic tradition. The good news is they're pretty great, and definitely contain very Brazilian moments.

Symphony No. 1 has an overall humid, melodramatic feel. Its indisputable highlight is the scherzo, a 6-minute super-Brazilian knockout of a piece that's like an even better sequel to "Batuque." It's colorful, immaculately crafted, amazingly orchestrated, full of tunes, and ridiculously fun. The rest of the symphony has a much more foreboding character, with darkness coming more easily to the composer. The slow movement in particular is outright tragic, with a climax that sounds adjacent to a funeral march. After that despair, the finale opens with a French horn fanfare and then a Walton-like mix of heroic rejoicing and complex, somewhat foreboding brass harmonies. To some extent, this is a false front, because the movement alternates this optimism with slower, more minor-key episodes. Only the percussion (including a bit where xylophone and flutes duet) really clues you in to the Brazilian origin of the material, until, maybe, the fanfares ring out again at the end.

Symphony No. 2 is based on an epic poem about a Portuguese explorer. The explorer is portrayed as a hero for leading an expedition into the Amazon jungle and fighting natives to find an emerald mine - which sounds more like straightforward greed today. At any rate, the symphony is programmatic, depicting his exploration, conflict, success, and eventual death, still in the jungle and delirious from fever, clutching his bag of gems.

There's a much more filmic quality to this music. The violins play high harmonics to evoke the primal mystery of the jungle; the percussion section gets a full workout; there is a more overtly Latin American feel to the melodic material. Although melodies resurface, the movements are treated like symphonic poems rather than traditional sonata forms. The most conventional section may be the slow movement, "lento e lamentoso," presumably describing the hero's death. The finale is an excitable burst of color: violins sing a strange theme while muted brass suggest sinister jungle surroundings. It's a short finale, and it ends with a fluttering string tremolo and a sudden descent to silence.

Fernandez died shortly after finishing the Symphony No. 2, before it could be premiered, at the too-young age of 50. Haunting to hear that sudden, tragic, quiet ending and realize that it is the composer's ending, too. If he'd lived to a proper age, who knows how many more colorful, interesting symphonies he could have left us, full of memorable moments.

Performance and sound are, as usual for this series, superb.

I was listening to this today - not with full attention but certainly a good first impression.  The symphonies are both confident impressive works.  Well played - the brass has a nice bite to their playing.  "Proper" listen tomorrow.....

foxandpeng

Quote from: Brian on June 26, 2024, 07:19:56 AM

Reisado do pastoreio is a 13-minute suite of light folksy music from which the finale, "Batuque," has become a major pops hit - it's on all kinds of Brazilian compilation albums and was recorded by Bernstein among others.

If you're expecting more folk fun like "Batuque" in Fernandez' two symphonies, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that his symphonies on the whole are deliberate attempts to offer a more abstract, Euro-styled musical language that fits into the world symphonic tradition. The good news is they're pretty great, and definitely contain very Brazilian moments.

Symphony No. 1 has an overall humid, melodramatic feel. Its indisputable highlight is the scherzo, a 6-minute super-Brazilian knockout of a piece that's like an even better sequel to "Batuque." It's colorful, immaculately crafted, amazingly orchestrated, full of tunes, and ridiculously fun. The rest of the symphony has a much more foreboding character, with darkness coming more easily to the composer. The slow movement in particular is outright tragic, with a climax that sounds adjacent to a funeral march. After that despair, the finale opens with a French horn fanfare and then a Walton-like mix of heroic rejoicing and complex, somewhat foreboding brass harmonies. To some extent, this is a false front, because the movement alternates this optimism with slower, more minor-key episodes. Only the percussion (including a bit where xylophone and flutes duet) really clues you in to the Brazilian origin of the material, until, maybe, the fanfares ring out again at the end.

Symphony No. 2 is based on an epic poem about a Portuguese explorer. The explorer is portrayed as a hero for leading an expedition into the Amazon jungle and fighting natives to find an emerald mine - which sounds more like straightforward greed today. At any rate, the symphony is programmatic, depicting his exploration, conflict, success, and eventual death, still in the jungle and delirious from fever, clutching his bag of gems.

There's a much more filmic quality to this music. The violins play high harmonics to evoke the primal mystery of the jungle; the percussion section gets a full workout; there is a more overtly Latin American feel to the melodic material. Although melodies resurface, the movements are treated like symphonic poems rather than traditional sonata forms. The most conventional section may be the slow movement, "lento e lamentoso," presumably describing the hero's death. The finale is an excitable burst of color: violins sing a strange theme while muted brass suggest sinister jungle surroundings. It's a short finale, and it ends with a fluttering string tremolo and a sudden descent to silence.

Fernandez died shortly after finishing the Symphony No. 2, before it could be premiered, at the too-young age of 50. Haunting to hear that sudden, tragic, quiet ending and realize that it is the composer's ending, too. If he'd lived to a proper age, who knows how many more colorful, interesting symphonies he could have left us, full of memorable moments.

Performance and sound are, as usual for this series, superb.

Thank you ☺️. On my list!
"A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

Tolstoy