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MusicWeb-international "We have had a happy journey in their company and feel confident that we will return before long for a reprise journey".

November 30, 2017

Göran Forsling

Brazilian Landscapes
Michala Petri (recorder)
Marilyn Mazur (percussion)
Daniel Murray (guitar)
Arrangements by Daniel Murray
rec. 2016, Koncertkirken, Copenhagen
OUR RECORDINGS 6.220618 [71:11]
In the liner notes to this issue, Paulo Bellinati points out two pillars of Brazilian music: “Antônio Carlos Jobim, the greatest creator of popular music and Heitor Villa-Lobos, the greatest composer of Brazilian classical music. Both Jobim and Villa-Lobos always sought to enrich their creations in the classical and the popular field respectively. Maestro Villa-Lobos was way ahead of his time and always believed that the foundations on which he based his entire creation were rooted in Brazil’s folk music. On the other hand, Jobim always looked to the Maestro for many elements to refine his music. We thus have a two-way street that formed a third stream: popular music with the nuances and refinements of classical music or, classical music incorporated with the rhythmic-harmonic-melodic improvisations of the popular one. These “pillars” influenced several generations of composers up to today’s young people, who are very well represented here.”

It is also fascinating to see and hear how three musicians from different musical camps and different cultures meet and make music that sounds completely integrated. Danish recorder player Michala Petri has for more than forty years been among the foremost players in the world on her instrument – and not only in baroque music, where the recorder primarily belongs, but she has also premiered more than 150 works written for her. She has collaborated with many prominent musicians from various camps, including her former husband Lars Hannibal, guitarist and lutenist, who is listed as executive producer for this production. Danish/American percussionist Marilyn Mazur is also a veteran in the game, well-known from jazz festivals around the world and worked for many years with Miles Davis. Guitarist Daniel Murray is Brazilian and one generation younger than his two team-mates. He contributes three compositions of his own and he has also made the arrangements. Together they make music that is so natural, so accomplished and – yes, integrated, that one feels that there exist no boundaries for them.

They start off their joint journey through the Brazilian landscapes in the dream world of Paulo Porto Alegre. We hear etheric unaccompanied bird song before the guitar comes in, a little mysterious, the pulse sets the music in motion and off we go. In Paulo Bellinati’s lively and rhythmical Jongo we are in the midst of a religious ceremony that stems from Africa but has been incorporated into Brazilian folklore. Originally written for two guitars this is a tour-de-force for all three musicians with Marilyn Mazur’s intensive drumming heightening the temperature several degrees. Its companion piece Pingue-Pongue is a canon and here the guitar follows the recorder like a shadow – or rather as an echo. Superb music making! Antônio Carlos Jobim’s Olha Maria is harmonically thrilling with bold dissonances and a melody that is atmospheric.

Daniel Murray’s own contributions are attractive, in particular Cauteloso, the longest piece on the disc. The earliest composer here is Ernesto Nazareth, born as early as 1863 and thus contemporaneous with Richard Strauss, Sibelius and Nielsen. He was influenced not only of Brazilian music but also European and African music and ragtime. He wrote 88 tangos, 41 waltzes, 28 polkas and a lot of other dances. He was a brilliant pianist and Fon-Fon was originally composed for piano, but here it receives a really stimulating version for recorder, guitar and percussion: swinging, outgoing and with some flutter-tongue playing on the recorder. Egberto Gismonti’s Karatê has a riveting melody and invites virtuoso playing with marvellous interplay with recorder and guitar. A Fala de Paixão is on the other hand a calm, melodious meditation.

Hermeto Pascoal’s São Jorge is another delicious melody with rhythmic drive and improvisations, accelerating to a magnificent end. Antonio Ribeiro’s VIII Miniaturas was also composed for piano, and they are certainly miniatures, none exceeding 2 minutes’ playing time.

Villa-Lobos is, as the introduction says, the master of Brazilian classical music and his Choros are famous. Here they are played in arrangements that bring them closer to popular music – and they are attractive also in this guise. Finally the trio returns to where it started, to Alegre and his slightly elusive dream world. We have had a happy journey in their company and feel confident that we will return before long for a reprise journey. Readers, whose appetites have been whetted by this review, are welcome to join us. Göran Forsling, Musicweb International, December 2017

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