Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A new CD from Sao Paulo

The Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, also known as OSESP, is Brazil's top orchestra, and one that's very highly regarded in the rest of the world. The orchestra records a fair amount on major labels, mainly with Naxos and BIS, but it also makes available a selection of CDs free on its website (the CDs marked Selo Digital OSESP are those you can download.) This is a great place to get a feel for the classical music of Brazil that's not written by Villa-Lobos (and believe me, there's lots of great music from down there!)

The latest CD from the OSESP Chamber Orchestra is really interesting: it's called Tres Concertos Brasileiros, and it includes three works from Brasilian composers: Nailor Azevedo Proveta, Toninho Ferragutti and Vagner Cunha. These composers all have connections with jazz and popular music, but they share a facility in writing for a classical orchestra. Ferragutti, who is an accomplished instrumentalist to go along with his composing and arranging, plays with panache his own instrument in his Fantasia for Accordion and Chamber Orchestra. In his note on the piece in the CD booklet, Ferragutti says the piece was written on the road, as his band toured the North-East of Brazil, Europe and the Southern Brazilian Pampas, all areas where the accordion has an important place in musical culture. Each of those traditions can be traced in this lively and vital work.  

Vagner Cunha's Viola Concerto is in a more classical mode, though jazz and popular elements are there as well. Proveta's Concertino in Choro Form for trumpet, strings and piano, is a standout: it's really gorgeous. This is a larger work which mixes choro and jazz with neo-classical forms, and especially with the orchestral sound of the French impressionists. All of the works on this disc are definitely worth a listen, and the price is right. Sound is excellent, the playing of the soloists strong, and the orchestral forces (under Terje Tonneson, Claudio Cruz and Celso Antunes) acquit themselves very well. This is very highly recommended.

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