Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Musical Genius from the South American Folk Tradition

From March 3, 2010:


This new Delos disc from The AMBAR Music Group is a primer of South American dance forms from very different folk music traditions in Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. These forms of music might have humble origins, but each in its own way has developed into more sophisticated music through the compositional genius of some great musicians.

Pixinguinha, who is represented on this disc by three superb songs, is an excellent example. He helped to elevate the 19th century choro from a kind of street-corner serenade into something that Heitor Villa-Lobos termed the "incarnation of the Brazilian soul". He belongs with Villa-Lobos and Tom Jobim in the highest level of the Brazilian musical pantheon. Most of the composers from the other South American traditions represented on this disc have the same personal voice, if not always the divine spark that Pixinguinha brings to his deceptively simple tunes. José Barros, a Colombian musician who wrote more than 800 songs in a variety of forms, is a good example. His porro "Momposina" is presented in a very clever full orchestral arrangement, and it's such fun to listen to. The famous waltz by the Venezuelan Heraclio Fernandez "El Diablo Suelto" was published in 1888; from this song, as with Pixinguinha's celebrated choros, sprang the popular music of a nation. Another standout is the Colombian Carlos Vieco, who provides two pasillos to the mix.

This is a fascinating disc, which might foster a desire to learn more about the national music of South America, or just put an extra jump in your jogging while you listen on your iPod. In either case Delos has put together a highly appealing compilation that deserves a listen. The Colombian musicians Francisco Gonzalez, Nelson Gomez, and Juan Fernando Garcia and their Russian violinist colleague Sasha Rozhdestvensky (with support from the Moscow Chamber Orchestra in a couple of pieces) provide an entertaining and varied programme that I'll be listening to often.

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