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Fabfare (US) 3. review "This seems like a good time to think about South America, and also about vacationing in Denmark. Brazilian Landscapes lets you do both at the same time"!

May 30, 2017

Raymond Tuttle

BRAZILIAN LANDSCAPES ● Michala Petri (rcr); Daniel Murray (gtr); Marilyn Mazur (perc) ● OUR 6.220618 (71:11)
PORTO ALEGRE Sonhos I & II. BELLINATI Jongo. Pingue-Pongue. JOBIM Olha Maria. MURRAY Cauteloso. Canção e Dança. NAZARETH Fon-Fon. GISMONTI Karatê. A Fala da Paixão. PASCOAL São Jorge. RIBEIRO VIII Miniaturas. VILLA-LOBOS Choros No. 2. Choros No. 5 (Alma Brasileira)
Most people will file this release as a recorder CD; after all, it has Michala Petri's name on it, and she must be the most indefatigable recorder player in action today. Nevertheless, it's really an equal collaboration between Ms. Petri, Danish-American percussionist and composer Marilyn Mazur, and Brazilian guitarist and composer Daniel Murray. All of the arrangements are by Murray, but because the music has a nicely relaxed air to it, one might guess that all three musicians were improvising a bit as the recording sessions went on, although I am not saying that that definitely was the case.
Brazilian Landscapes treads the sometimes fuzzy border between classical music and semi-classical or even popular music. For that reason, it is a bit of a departure for Petri, but that's OK. In the case of the present program, that border seems particularly fuzzy. Most people would call Heitor Villa-Lobos a classical composer, but they might not bestow that title on Ernesto Nazareth (because most of his works are in dance genres), and they probably would leave Antônio Carlos Jobin out of the classical genre entirely, given his reputation as a jazz musician. (Everyone knows “The Girl from Ipanema,” although she does not make an appearance on this CD.) As you listen to this CD, you probably won't be thinking “that's classical” and “that's not.” Instead, the program is characterized by its stylistic continuity, which is not to say that it is monotonous. That continuity comes partly from the character of Brazilian music, and partly from the unfussy approach taken by Petri, Murray, and Mazur.
The program is effectively bracketed by the two impressionistic Sonhos (Dreams) by Paulo Porto Alegre. Unusual percussion effects in these two tracks make me wish that I could see what Mazur was doing. In between, there is much to enjoy: sonic environments that are languid and sensual; unexpected rhythmic juxtapositions; beckoning melodies; and piquant, yet always comforting, harmonies. One piece that works particularly well for these three musicians is Nazareth's nervously syncopated Brazilian tango Fon-Fon. (Elsewhere, its title has been translated as “Toot-Toot.” The sheet music is headed with a cartoon of two men in a flivver, and a little boy scurrying to get out its way.) Anyone attempting to dance to it as if it were a traditional tango will end up tripping on his or her shoelaces. Daniel Murray's Dança (Dance) is another bizarre delight, in terms of rhythm; all three instruments seem to be doing their own thing in their own time, and yet they mysterious come together to form a satisfying whole. The Brazilians must have a secret for getting oil to mix with water!
As I write this, it's almost June, and the weather in Virginia is getting warmer. This seems like a good time to think about South America, and also about vacationing in Denmark. Brazilian Landscapes lets you do both at the same time! 31.05.2017, Fanfare Raymond Tuttle

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