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Fanfare (US) 2. review " Colorful music, exquisitely played and recorded: I can’t imagine a more engaging way to spend an hour that doesn’t involve flying down to Rio".

May 27, 2017

Ronald E. Grames

Collections: Ensemble
BRAZILIAN LANDSCAPES  Michala Petri (rcr); Daniel Murray (gtr); Marilyn Mazur (perc)1  OUR RECORDINGS 6.220618 (SACD: 71:11)
ALEGRE 1Sonhos. BELLINATI 1Jongo. Pingue-Pongue. JOBIM Olha Maria (Amparo). DANIEL MURRAY 1Cauteloso. 1Canção e Dança. NAZARETH 1Fon-Fon. GISMONTI 1Karatê. 1A Fala da Paixão. PASCOAL 1São Jorge. RIBEIRO 7 Miniatures. VILLA-LOBOS Choros: No. 2. No. 5, “Alma Brasileira”

Those who know Danish recorder virtuoso extraordinaire Michala Petri primarily for her Baroque music recording or for her advocacy of often challenging new music, might be a little surprised by a release of Brazilian works that ride the line—admittedly faint in Brazil—between classical and popular. If so, perhaps those persons missed Siesta, an absolutely delightful disc that she and guitarist Lars Hannibal released in 2006. That disc included several works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose music is—to use the term of annotator and composer Paulo Bellinati—one of two pillars of Brazilian music: the classical one. The earlier CD offered Latin-flavored works by a number of well-known composers from Piazzolla to Ravel, all in stylish arrangements.
This new release is different in a couple ways from this predecessor. First, it focuses on the music of this one country and, beyond “pillars” Villa-Lobos and Antonio Carlos Jobim—the popular music side of this symbiotic arrangement—on to a later generation of composers whose music feels the influence of both. The other is the addition of percussion to the guitar/recorder duo. In several of the works, such as Paulo Porto Alegre’s simple vocalise Sonhos (Dreams), played twice here as bookends for the program, improvised percussion creates atmosphere and a touch of the uncanny.
The percussion, provided by drummer/composer/bandleader Marilyn Mazur—American-born but living in Denmark for many years—colors a number of the works besides the Alegre. In Paulo Bellinati’s Jongo, arranged from the original for guitar duo, her percussion line adds the West African flavor of the dance’s origins and finishes with an extended demonstration of fine African drumming. Brazilian guitarist/composer (and third member of the trio) Daniel Murray’s Canção e Dança—originally for solo guitar—gets similar treatment: subtle at first in the song and with more abandon in the dance. Mazur adds drive to the good-humored (and often-played) Karatê by Egberto Gismonti, and delicate atmosphere to his signature piano solo A Fala da Paixão (Passion Talk) with light metallic percussion and wind chimes. She offers similar coloristic touches to Hermeto Pascoal’s São Jorge.
Every work, with and without percussion, has been significantly rethought for the program. Antônio Ribeiro’s piquant but thoroughly agreeable miniatures and Villa-Lobos’s Alma Brasileira, both originally for piano, and others for guitar duo or even—Villa-Lobos’s Choros No. 2—flute and clarinet duo, have been arranged by unidentified artists. Purists may prefer originals, but there is no denying the charm and beauty of these works, or the skill with which they are arranged and played. There are brief but helpful notes on the origins and short bios of the performers. Topping it off is the superb sound to which we have become accustomed from this label. Note in particular the lovely percussion transients caught at extraordinary DXD resolution, providing smooth, open, nearly tangible aural images of the performers, especially in the SACD layer. Colorful music, exquisitely played and recorded: I can’t imagine a more engaging way to spend an hour that doesn’t involve flying down to Rio. 28.05.2017, Fanfare Ronald E. Grames

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