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.