Romaria: Choral music from Brazil

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Aguiar,Araneda,Escobar; plus traditional folksong,Fonseca,Lacerda,Prado,Santoro,uritiba,Villa-Lobos
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Romaria: Choral music from Brazil
WORKS: Works by Curitiba, Lacerda, Fonseca, Aguiar, Villa-Lobos, Prado, Santoro, Araneda, Escobar; plus traditional folksong
PERFORMER: Kate Symonds-Joy (mezzo-soprano), Liam Crangle (organ), Gonville & Caius College Choir, Cambridge/ Geoffrey Webber
CATALOGUE NO: DCD34147

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Birds and insects chittering in the Amazonian forest, including the remarkable sound of the uirapuru, launch this anthology of Brazilian choral music. Above them composer Henrique de Curitiba layers variations on a snippet from Victoria’s Missa Quarti toni, with stratospheric sorties for soprano mimicking the birdlife, and taxing the two soloists. The piece is called Metaphors, and is one of seven premiere recordings in a programme devised in conjunction with musicologists at the University of São Paulo.

It’s not the only work with surprises in it: Osvaldo Lacerda interpolates spoken sections into his setting of Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s poem Romaria, and the five movements of Aylton Escobar’s Missa breve sobre ritmos populares brasileiros toy with different Brazilian dance idioms, throwing in imitations of shouting cattle-herders, a rustic fiddler and a woodpecker for good measure. It sounds like a hotchpotch, but it works – invigoratingly, in this vibrantly committed Gonville & Caius Choir performance.

The choir’s ability to convincingly embrace a variety of ethnic influences is further reflected in their pulsating account of Carlos A Pinto Fonseca’s Jubiabá, where tribal chant material fed into the Brazilian melting-pot by African immigrants is incorporated. Warm tonal colorations and excellent blending of the sections characterise the two Villa-Lobos pieces included, and the Delphian engineering is ideally enveloping and empathetic. This is a genuinely enterprising recital which deserves every choral aficionado’s attention.

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Terry Blain