A recent NAXOS CLASSICS release features the neglected music of César Guerra-Peixe (1914 –1993), an immensely gifted  Brazilian composer and conductor, son of Portuguese immigrants of Romani origins, who integrated elements of Brazilian nationalism in his compositions, specifically the music of the Brazilian northeast, as well as effectively utilizing his impressively varied compositional skills with the use of a mix of tonality and dissonance, rhythmic drive and lyricism

Jongo and Cateretê are both Brazilian folkloric dances with African roots. They make up two of the four movements of César Guerra-Peixe ‘s Symphonic Suite No. 1, “Paulista.”

A third movement, Recomenda de almas takes its Portuguese language title from a Catholic ritual also prevalent in other Christian denominations which the faithful carry out during the weeks leading up to Holy Week as a way of purifying the souls of believers in preparation for Easter. Tambú is the Brazilian term for a kind of folk drum, a type of folk music, and a dance originated in the Dutch Antilles.

Roda de amigos (Circle of Friends), a whimsically titled piece portrays in humorously tinged music a group of friends: a curmudgeonly individual (“rabugento”) depicted here by a bassoon, a timid person (“teimoso”) given to a descriptive solo clarinet, a melancholy sort (“melancólico”) played by the oboe, and a playful (“travesso”) friend, embodied by the flute.

The Symphonic Suite No. 2, “Pernambucana” incorporates into its four movements a Brazilian Maracatu, a Frevo, a Dança de cabocolinhos, and an Aboiado.

Maracatu is an ancient musical carnival tradition from Pernambuco state with roots in the estates, where African slaves preserved their African heritage in carnival dance and song. Frevo dances originated in the 19th century in parades in North Easter Brazil in which the potentially violent deeds of delinquents were sublimated into displays of acrobatic prowess. Cabocolinhos is a Carnival dance in which the participants adorn themselves as native Brazilians and portray hunting and combat rituals. Aboiado is the Brazilian word for a cowboy or farmhand who makes a living in the open prairies of Pernambuco.

The Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Neil Thomson plays this music as only they could: with precise rhythmic drive and exquisite lyricism

“The Music of Brazil” series is part of a project developed by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Brazilian Academy of Music to promote music by Brazilian composers. Works from the 19th and 20th centuries will be recorded by major Brazilian orchestras, in addition to the preparation of new editions or even first printings of the works to be recorded. We look forward to more.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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