De Bandolim a Bandolim
The bandolim is a popular instrument in Brazil and has obtained a major position as a solo voice in choro thanks to great instrumentists in the tradition from Luperce Miranda to Jacob Bittencourt (aka Jacob do Bandolim), and on the contemporary scene the position of the bandolim is maintained and kept up to date by stellar performers like Armandinho, Hamilton de Holanda, Danilo Brito a.o.. Jacob do Bandolim is generally considered the single most important agent in favour of recognising the instrument as a solo voice, his efforts in promoting the instrument and in collecting fitting repertoire of music are of enourmous importance in the still expanding popularity of the instrument. Among the many activities of historic notice maintained by Jacob do Bandolim was his co-oporation with composer Radamés Gnattali in arranging Gnattali's suite 'Retratos' for bandolim and symphonic orchestra documented in the important historic recording of the work in 1964 featuring Jacob do Bandolim as a soloist. The recording of 'Retratos' was an example of the fact that the boundaries between popular music traditionally connected with the bandolim, notably choro, and erudite, compositional work had dissolved, however, the boundaries were never as strictly pointed out in Brasilian culture as elsewhere and especially in European tradition. The aftermath of 'Retratos' meant that choro musicians extended their repertoire to include written music from the erudite compopositional tradition of works by both Brazilians and classical composers like J.S. Bach, Vivaldi and Chopin a.o.
One of the leading figures in this movement was bandolimist Joel Nascimento (b.1937), who founded the Camerata Carioca choro ensemble early 1970'ies with guidance by Radamés Gnattali. Nascimento persuaded Gnattali to arrange his 'Retratos' suite for a choro ensemble and surprised the maestro at a party by bringing in his Camerata Carioca ensemble to perform the re-arranged work, later Gnattali participated in the arranging and recording of a homage to the music of Jacob do Bandolim by Camerata Carioca (LP,1979). The Camerata Carioca ensemble and Radamés Gnattali also had a co-work on the project devoted to music by Vivaldi and Pixinguinha (LP,1980). Since the revival of choro dawned during the 1970s it is no longer unusual to find music by erudite, classical composers mixed with traditional choro works in the repertoire of contemporary choro ensembles. The new cd shown above featuring Hamilton de Holanda and Joel Nascimento reflects this tradition by mixing works by choro icons like Nazareth, Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim with compositions by J.S.Bach, Vivaldi and Beethoven in the repertoire of the disc, moreover the cd has a short piece by Radamés Gnattali documenting the importance of his music in contemporary Brasilian culture and in evolving the concept of choro containing both popular and erudite elements.
Last year Joel Nascimento and Hamilton de Holanda went into the studio to record the cd, 'De Bandolim a Bandolim', showcasing the bandolim and the tradition of mixing popular and erudite music. The result is a marvellous experiment documenting for the first time, I think, a duo recording of two bandolins in interplay without a back-up ensemble, further it is the first time Nascimento and Hamilton de Holanda have recorded together. The two musicians, however, know each other well, Hamilton was a student with Nascimento earlier, and this relation shines through and generates an intimate atmosphere in the set-up of the recording. Generally, Joel Nascimento takes the lead voice while Hamilton provides the accompaniment contributing chordal work, fill-ins and rhythmic support, but he is also given space in introducing of themes and gets a chance to show off his exceptional skills as an improviser with complete demand of his chosen instrument, the 10 string bandolim. The role of the two musicians' part in the game is not defined as a teacher-student combination as could be expected, rather it is the nature of the used instruments that defines the roles of both musicians. While Nascimento plays the conventional 8 string bandolim designed for playing lead, Hamilton's 10 string instrument provides the extended possibility of adding elaborate bass lines and complex accompaniment thanks to the two lower strings, thus, the musical possibilities of the instruments point out the appropiate set-up for interplay in the work by the duo.
The cd contains ten titles, four of which are from an erudite reperoire: 'Concerto Para Bandolim e Orquestra II Movimento' (Radamés Gnattali), 'Chorale Prelude 'Nun Komm der Heillan' Adagio' (J.S.Bach), 'Concerto Para 3 Bandolins em G II Movimento' (A.Vivaldi) with guest participation by Armandinho Macêdo to cover the three instruments score and finally 'Sonatina em C Menor' by Ludwig van Beethoven originally composed for piano and mandolin. The remaining titles cover pieces by Catulo da Paixão Cearense/Alfredo Dutra, 'Tu Passaste Por Este Jardim', a romantic theme introducing the cd. 'Gotas de Ouro' by Ernesto Nazareth, a famous waltz from the composer's book, further the choros 'Os Cinco Companheiros' by Pixinguinha and 'O Bom Filho á Casa Torna' by Bonfiglio de Oliveira. There is also a reading of the romantic yet complex 'Falta-Me Você' by Jacob do Bandolim and, surprisingly, a very lively rendition of the tango 'Por Una Cabeza' by Carlos Gardel/Alfredo Le Pere complete with rhythmic tapping on the bandolim box and elaborate improvisation of the theme by the duo. The fascinating mix of repertoire of the disc invites to repeated listening to digest the magnificent contributions by the duo, the cd is definitely designated to highlight the bandolim as a fitting instrument for chamber music of a high level and it is likely that the record may rank as the most important in the category of instrumental music released in Brazil in 2009. You have the opportunity to listen to the music in full length at Radio UOL, click picture of cd above or here to get access.
To end this small review of 'De Bandolim a Bandolim' I'll insert a couple of video fragments featuring Joel Nascimento and Hamilton de Holanda performing together during a studio recording of the dvd-project "Ao Jacob, seus Bandolins". - The first fragment is a performance of Jacob do Bandolim's 'Alvorada', the bandolinists are accompanied by Rogério Caetano on violão 7 cordas - enjoy!
From the same studio sessions as above, here's an improvised rendition of Jacob do Bandolim's 'Noites Cariocas' - enjoy!