“Brésil 1900” = Works of SILVA, REICHERT & CALLADO for piccolo & piano – Skarbo

“Brésil 1900” = PATTÀPIO SILVA: Primeiro Amor (valse), Op. 4; Serata d’Amore (romance), Op. 2; Zinha (polka), Op.8; Oriental (pièce charactéristique), Op. 6; Sonho (romance fantaisie), Op. 5; Margarida (mazurka), Op. 3; Evocaçao (romance élégiaque), Op. 1; Amor Perdido (valse), Op. 9; MATHIEU-ANDRÉ REICHERT: Tarentelle, Op. 3; Rondo Caracteristico, Op. 14; JOAQUIM ANTONIO DA SILVA CALLADO, JR.: Lundú Caracteristico – Jean-Louis Beaumadier, piccolo / Maria José Carrasqueira, piano – Skarbo DSK 4092, 63:35 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

This is the sort of CD you approach with consternation and some skepticism. Piccolo and piano? And doesn’t Brazilian classical music start with Villa-Lobos, who’s not here? The music scene in Brazil in the year 1900 presents a fat lacuna in my knowledge of world music. So I was educated by this Skarbo disc and mostly entertained, which makes it a pretty good bargain.

Of course, all influential artists have forerunners, and Villa-Lobos is no exception. The successful fusion of Brazilian native and popular music with European classical music started in the salons of Rio in the late nineteenth century as classically trained musicians introduced the inflections and forms of native Brazilian music into sophisticated entertainment music. In the case of Belgian flutist and composer Matthieu-André Reichert (1830-1880), the influence went both ways. Touring the major cities of Brazil, he performed his own technically demanding pieces, which reflected what was being played in the salons of Europe at the time, including the tarantella and rondo on the current disc. He was responsible for introducing the Boëhm system of flute playing into Brazil while at the same time being influenced by the Brazilian style espoused by Joaquim Callado, Jr. (1848-1880). The fusion of the European and Brazilian styles came to dominate flute playing in Brazil by the time Pattápio Silva (1880-1907) arrived on the scene.

Callado also played the salons and palaces of Brazil, composing the same sort of European-style salon pieces based on waltzes, polkas, and the like, as well as popular forms such as the dance of African origin called the Lundú. In addition, he was responsible for establishing the first choro ensemble, which consisted of a flute, two standard-size guitars, and a mini-guitar known as the cavaquinbo. The music that it and subsequent ensembles performed was based on the polka but with native inflections such as heavy syncopation and an interpretative freedom that often lead to improvisatory riffs. Villa-Lobos later forced this popular style of music back into the classical mold in his series of fourteen Choros.

So musical Brazil in 1900 was a crossroads of influences both classical and popular, native and European. In his short career (he died at 26), Pattápio Silva wrote virtuoso salon music in the style of his musical forebears as well as more street-smart pieces based on what the choro ensembles of the day were playing, including the waltz-based serata, or street serenade. His works on the current disc have the most pronounced South American accent, and whether sentimental (Sonho), peppy (Zinha), or hot-house exotic (Oriental), his works are the most attractive, forming the heart of the program.

The notes to the recording give no indication why these pieces are played on piccolo; I assume the only reason is the involvement of Jean-Louis Beaumadier, a piccolo virtuoso who studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal. Like his teacher, Beaumadier has a big confident tone (his little instrument not withstanding), flawless breath control, and technique to no end. He’s ably and colorfully supported by Brazilian pianist Maria José Carrasqueira, professor at São Paulo University, who also wrote the informative notes to the recording. The skilled and enthusiastic playing of this pair is almost worth the price of admission, but the music, flyaway though it often is, is quite entertaining as well and opens a window on the culture that bred the likes of Villa-Lobos and Camargo Guarnieri. Skarbo’s bright and nicely resonant recording makes the whole package even more attractive.

— Lee Passarella

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