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

New classics of Fado

From March 3, 2011:


Custodio Castelo is a master of the guitarra portuguesa, a really cool instrument that looks like a mandolin and has odd tuning and sympathetic strings, like a baryton or sitar. It's an important part of the traditional accompaniment for the genre of music known as fado, which comes from 19th century Portugal and which remains very popular around the world today.

Any type of music becomes of only antiquarian interest unless there are great interpreters to breathe life into old works, and great composers to re-invent the form. Castelo plays both roles, and the evidence is here in this new CD from ARC music. Castelo's Ausente ("Absent", the second track on the disc) seems destined to be a fado classic. It's reminiscent of Gente da Minha Terra, the song written by the great Amália Rodrigues and popularized by Mariza. This song typifies "saudade", the nostalgic feeling of loss and sadness so often connected with fado, and with many other forms of music throughout the Portuguese-speaking world.

The album includes less mournful moods as well, though. Quase morna ("Almost warm") is a sprightly dance, while Homage a Paredes shows Castelo is a virtuoso in the same league as the guitarist Carlos Paredes, the famous "man with a thousand fingers". This disc is very highly recommended to fans of world music and great guitar-playing.

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