Monday, June 26, 2017

Virtuoso Brazilian Guitar Duets - Yamandú Costa & Alessandro Penezzi

CD front - Quebranto (Biscoito Fino 2017) (graphic illustration by Stephan Doitschinoff)
Two well known and acclaimed Brazilian guitarists, Yamandú Costa and Alessandro Penezzi have joined forces in recording the shown CD Quebranto that was released by the Biscoito Fino label last month (more info here). The CD has thirteen tracks of amazing guitar duets featuring music composed and/or arranged by the two guitarists. The music reflects different aspects of the Brazilian guitar tradition which are celebrated in the disc. What keeps the project together and generates a successfull disc is the mutual conception of the music and exceptional technical skills applied by both musicians.
According to a published interview with Alessandro Penezzi (- available in Portuguese only, here) the CD has been a long time underway, quote (my English translation): " It was born of a mutual desire that we had to make a record together. About ten years ago, we met at his [Yamandú's] house and began to compose. We recorded some songs in a homemade way. However, only later did we decide to finish the album, putting the idea on paper. I've known Yamandu for a long time, since when I went to live in São Paulo, around 2002. In fact, we became friends, as if we already knew each other.(-) If we add up all the time we have taken to the design and composition of this record, it's years. We started writing it for about three or four years ago, but the idea came before as I said". The collaboration was complicated because of geographical distance between the two guitarists, however, "We solved this a few times with contacts via Skype, WhatsApp, email, and it was like this. When we had a reasonable number of compositions and we needed to rehearse the arrangements, we decided to go to Yamandu's house"
The CD celebrates the Brazilian guitar, its tradition and players - Penezzi puts it this way in the interview, quote "The Brazilian guitar is a character of many faces - from Latin, from Latin blood, from the energy and strength that comes from the Spanish influence, the black guitar, the Creole, the Gaucho ... In fact, there is not an interpreter specifically there [in the music at the disc] , but the soul of the guitar. We seek, by means of sonorous brushstrokes, to give our vision". When asked what are some of the main peculiarities of the Brazilian guitar/violão, Penezzi says there are several "... but I would say the right hand, which is vigorous and has enough of (-) that percussive thing that comes from the Afro root. At the same time, it works hard on polyphony and praises for virtuosity, because of the flameco and Spanish influence. It is a guitar of many peculiarities". The front cover illustration of the CD, which is copied from a graphic work by Stephan Doitschinoff reflects some of the peculiarities of the right hand technique used by Brazilian guitarists according to Penezzi, quote "There's a gypsy thing about it, which, incidentally, is one of our influences. When we speak of Spanish flamenco music, it includes the gypsy vein, which carries a whole mystical, exoteric baggage." The title of the CD, Quebranto, which also is the title of one of the compositions by Penezzi at the CD, further reflects the gypsy aspect - the word 'quebranto' in gypsy exoteric knowledge points to a spell that casts itself through the gaze to bewitch someone. In a way, this is exactly what happens between musicians when interacting directed by the spirit of the music - it's a spellbinding experience which unites the musician with his or her instrument and at the same time directs the performance and interplay as a unity.
As mentioned, there are thirteen tracks at the CD, five of them contain collaborated compositions by the two guitarists (Capitão do Mato, Chico balanceado, Amigo Bonilha, Valsa Morena and Chaparral), three tracks have pieces composed by Penezzi (É chorando que se aprende, Dayanna and Quebranto), Yamandú also has three self penned pieces (Samba pro Rafa, Bolero negro and Saracoteco) while the two remaining tracks are devoted to a Valsa seresta no. 1 by Sergio Belluco (Penezzi's teacher of the violão) and a collaborate work by Yamandú and his teacher Lucio Yanel entitled Meus gurizinhos. - Yamandú takes a leading role in most of the recorded tunes playing the themes while Penezzi contributes accompaniement but also gets solo spots besides showing off exceptional technical skills like Yamandú. The interplay between the two guitarists is amazing and reveals a mutual responsiveness and shared understanding of the music, which keep the spontaneity and energy of the performance in a direct way that is rare in produced studio recordings. The result is a magnificent production and I highly recommend the CD to anyone with interest in great Brazialian guitar music. - The disc is avaiable for purchase here and you have the opportunity to listen to the tracks at Spotify and similar audiostreaming suppliers at the web. Biscoto Fino has uploaded the first track of the CD, Capitão do Mato, in an audio video at YouTube, which is inserted below to end this small review