Works by Sérgio Assad, Jobim, Nascimento, Villa-Lobos et al
Plínio Fernandes (guitar) et al
Decca Gold 485 7617 67:38 mins
‘Saudade’ is a Portuguese word for which music – and perhaps the guitar in particular – offers ideal expression. Nostalgia, longing, love and happiness: all are here, alongside that existential yearning so evocative of melting-pot Brazil. For his debut solo album, guitarist Plínio Fernandes offers a homage to his homeland that shows the porousness of its popular and classical genres in works and arrangements by some of Brazil’s most celebrated composers.
Central is Villa-Lobos, and his five Preludes (1940), now firmly embedded in the guitar repertoire, are given a lithe, richly vibrant performance. Yet equally important is composer-guitarist Sérgio Assad, creator of multihued arrangements of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ and more alongside two of his own pieces – and alongside ‘Ipanema’ composer Antônio Carlos Jobim and many others including João Luiz, Ary Barroso and Violeta Parra: purveyors extraordinaire of everything from bittersweet romance to samba and bossa-inflected paeans to life. Fernandes is beguiling throughout. He is joined by Sheku and Braimah Kanneh-Mason (cello, violin) for a track apiece, and the superb vocalist Maria Rita for a haunting rendition of de Oliveira’s ‘O Mundo É Um Moinho’.