SOUNDS OF BRAZIL
QUINTET OF THE AMERICAS
Sato Moughalian, Flute
Matt Sullivan, Oboe
Edward R. Gilmore, Clarinet
Laura Koepke, Bassoon
Barbara Oldham, Horn
Gaudencio Thiago De Mello, Organic Percussion
Blair Mcmillen, Piano
"This is a most enchanting release. It traces the evolution of Brazilian music from one of its indigenous roots as exemplified by the seven songs, interwoven throughout the program, of contemporary composer Gaudencio Thiago de Mello who grew up in the Amazonian rain forest and is saturated by its spirit. He proves to be a striking melodist whose tunes, given the fine arrangements here and accompanied by their composer playing organic percussion, provide a recurring reference point as the listener is taken through the music of the pioneering Ernesto Nazareth (1863–1934), through that of Pixinguinha (the composer of Tica tica non fuba) toward that of the most traditionally trained Ricardo Romaneiro and Marcelo Zarvos. Their two pieces were originally scored for the instrumentation encountered here, and though they are the most formally studied of the lot, they, paradoxically, elucidate and amplify their composers’ heritage in vivid colors.
Brazil has largely been terra incognita as far as most readers of Fanfare (dedicated to “serious record collectors”) are concerned. In past pieces for this and other publications, I have noted that in Brazil the demarcation between jazz, pop, and “serious” music doesn’t exist. Heitor Villa-Lobos consistently worked within that paradigm and provided pieces that still undermine our notion of what is truly classical while, at the same time, becoming so. In Villa-Lobos’s mind, Euro-centric procedures were not essential, but they could provide the means to enhance the native musical languages he loved, explored, and pursued.
Ernesto Nazareth was the first Brazilian composer to meld European and North American musical forms with indigenous accents, paving the way for Pixinguinha, Villa-Lobos, and all the subsequent composers on this offering. Incidentally, Nazareth’s Brajeiro was cribbed by Darius Milhaud in his ballet, Le boeuf sur le toit. Nazareth, alas, sold the rights to that most popular and enduring Brazilian tango for a proverbial song.
The virtuosic prowess of these performing musicians, aided by MSR’s airy and detailed sound, offers a most satisfying and enligzhtening odyssey. Before I leave this review, a definition of the term “organic percussion” is in order. Gaudencio Thiago de Mello creates his percussion instruments from things he finds naturally growing in the Amazon rainforest. One cannot be more indigenous than that."
William Zagorski, Fanfare [November / December 2009]
"The Quintet is a tight ensemble fusing their remarkably different timbres into a virtuosic panorama that pulses with energy and excitement. The rhythmic teamwork, artistic commitment, and risk-taking make the recording hard to put down, and their guest collaborators bring a similar amount of skill and investment. The whole program is enjoyable, well worth the price..."
Hanudel, American Record Guide [September / October 2009]
"Coupled with the quintet's highly lyrical playing of de Mello's warm-hearted melodies, the effect is charming... Some of the music is popular in tone, with catchy melodies and infectious rhythms, and it should appeal to listeners beguiled by that type of Latinate sound. The performances are uniformly excellent; each member of the Quintet is a characterful soloist, but their blend and balance as an ensemble is exemplary, and their ability to integrate their playing with de Mello's organic percussion is admirable. MSR Classics' digital sound is evocative..."
James Leonard, All Music Guide [June 2009]
Since its founding in Colombia in 1976, Quintet of the Americas has delighted in performing music of South America. Following its successful recording Dancing in Colombia, the ensemble is proud to be releasing this CD of music with Brazilian roots. The idea for this disc originated with the Quintet’s arrangements of music by Ernesto Nazareth and Pixinguinha. More music from Brazil was added to the Quintet’s collection when their long-time friend and inspiration, Thiago de Mello, began performing with the Quintet in arrangements of his songs by Daniel Wolff. Further collaborations with Brazilian pianist and composer Marcelo Zarvos led to the commissioning of Changes. Rounding out the album is another commissioned work, Ventos, by a gifted young composer on the New York scene, Ricardo Romaneiro.
QUINTET OF THE AMERICAS was founded in 1976 in Bogotá, Colombia, by five players from the United States who were the principal wind players of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. Two-time recipients of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Adventuresome Programming Awards, the Quintet’s programs have included repertoire as varied as commissioned pieces involving electronic music, Sephardic music, Native American music, music from the African Diaspora and music influenced by jazz, as well as music involving the Quintet’s collection of folk instruments including drums, flutes, rattles, conch horns, etc., and music with theatrical elements such as lighting, masks, and choreography.
The Quintet has toured extensively in the United States, and in Canada, Venezuela, Colombia, the Caribbean, Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia. The Quintet is currently in residence in the Department of Music and Performing Arts in the Steinhardt School at New York University. The group’s extensive residency experience has included the Chamber Music America Residency Program in Chicago involving Northwestern University, the Chicago Youth Symphony and the People’s Music School; Austin Peay State University (Tennessee); and several years at Hunter College (New York) and New York’s Americas Society. The group has performed outreach programs for Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y, Midori and Friends, Fondaçion Batuta in Colombia, Queens Symphony, and Young Audiences. In 2002, the Quintet gave master classes and concerts for the Special Secondary Music School in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and at the National Conservatoire in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. The Quintet presents a yearly one-week intensive Institute for Woodwind Quintets and Wind Chamber Music at New York University for high school and college students.
The Quintet presented a Carnegie Hall debut recital in 1992 featuring three commissions for Quintet with orchestra. Other important concerts have included the Carnegie Hall American Music Week Series at Weill Recital Hall, the Bermuda International Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, the Inter-American Festival in Puerto Rico, the Bar Harbor Festival, the Chautauqua Festival, the Pan American Music Festivals at the Library of Congress and the O.A.S. in Washington, the Festival Internacional de Música Contemporanea in Bogotá, Colombia (1993), the First International Congress on Women in Music; two Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festivals, the International Flute Convention, and a two-day Villa-Lobos centennial festival co-produced by the Quintet and SineNomine Singers, an 80th birthday concert for Karel Husa, as well as appearances on retrospective concerts of composers David del Tredici at Town Hall, Ursula Mamlok at Merkin Concert Hall, and Ann McMillan at Greenwich House Music School.
The Quintet has commissioned more than 50 works funded by Chamber Music America, New York State Council on the Arts, the Serge Koussevitsky Foundation of the Library of Congress, the Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, and others. The Quintet’s CDs include Recollections, the wind chamber music of Karel Husa (New World 2004), Dancing in Colombia (MSR 2001), Quintet of the Americas Self Portrait (CRI), Souvenirs (XLNT), Discovering the New World (MMC), Never Sing Before Breakfast (Newport Classics), and XANGO, music of Villa-Lobos (Newport Classics).
Gaudencio Thiago de Mello
Chant No.2 - Uirapurú do Amazonas; O Canto da Yara
Chant No.10 – Canoa Furada (There’s a hole in my canoe)
A Hug For Tiberio (Choro Alegre)
A Hug for Pixinga
Varre-Vento (Swept by the Wind)
Pra Dormir na Rede – Acalanto (to Luisinha) (For You to Sleep in a Hammock – Lullaby)
As Proesas de Nolasco
Changes – Sextet for Winds & Piano
Movement I – Prelúdio
Movement II – Meditaçâo
Movement III - Quase Choro