Monday, September 29, 2014

Rio Paris: Brazilian songs with a French connection

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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