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.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Brazilian songs with a French connection

From September 29, 2014:


I've finally had a chance to listen to the Erato CD Rio Paris, a project by guitarist Liat Cohen, with the involvement of three special singers: Natalie Dessay, Agnes Jaoui and Helena Noguerra. Seven of the 17 tracks are by Villa-Lobos, but I also really enjoyed Cohen's choice by more recent composers, beginning with my favourite Tom Jobim song, Waters of March.

The centre-piece of the disc is the Aria of Bachianas Brasileiras #5, presented in Villa-Lobos's own arrangement for guitar and voice, and performed by Liat Cohen and Natalie Dessay. Two little-known early songs by Villa-Lobos with Cohen and Dessay are also included: Les Meres, op.45, and L'oiseau besse d'une fleche, op. 10 (most VL pieces with opus numbers are from the beginning of his career: these are from 1913 and 1914).

There are plenty of other delights included. I especially appreciated three spare arrangements for guitar and voice by Rafi Kadishson:

- Agua e vinho by Egberto Gismondi, sung by Helena Noguerra
- the Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes Samba em preludio, sung by Agnes Jaoui and Helena Noguerra
- the Jobim standard Desafinado sung by Helena Noguerra

The liner notes by Villa-Lobos scholar Rémi Jacobs show the serious side of the project, but you can tell from Liat Cohen's notes, the pictures included in the booklet, and the music itself, everyone involved seems to have had a lot of fun.

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