Sunday, April 10, 2016

Patriotism, progress and crisis

This is a very fine CD from one of my favourite Brazilian guitarists, Alvaro Henrique. It's a good chance to learn a bit about what's up with Brazilian composers after Villa-Lobos. Here we have Jorge Antunes, Mario Ferraro and Carlos Alberto da Silva, in an album with the theme of the creation and history of Brasilia.

Henrique begins patriotically with his own arrangement for guitar of Louis Moreau Gottschalk's Grand Triumphal Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem. This was a pleasant surprise. You expect empty jingoism from something like this. It's virtuosic enough, but there's more substance than expected in this surprisingly intimate and sometimes moving piece.

I'm not an expert in these matters, but I know that Brasilia means more to Brazilians than Ottawa means to Canadians, or Washington (in a positive or a negative way) to Americans. The "spirit of Brasilia" is the theme of Carlos Alberto Silva's Reconstruction of Brasilia, an updating of the original spirit for the 21st century. Alternating progress and crisis, political and economic, doesn't change the underlying love of Brazilians for their country. Mario Ferraro's Little Suite from Brasilia paints pictures of real beauty of the landscapes before and after the city's construction.

The highlight of the disc, though, is Jorge Antunes' important work Brasilia 50. Each movement of this work (which I assume is a still in progress) represents a year in the history of Brasilia and the Brazilian and world events that affect it. In 1963, which has amazing relevance for politics around the world today, Antunes includes a snippet of a speech by John F. Kennedy: "Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions." This is interrupted, of course, by gunshots, and Antunes adds a haunting guitar coda. Other years include speeches in Portuguese, and though one might not know the content, sound effects and the guitar commentary help to provide context and musical interest. 1974 begins with the light but always sad fado music of Portugal, and is once again interrupted by ominous sounds. This time it has a happier outcome: the Carnation Revolution.

This is a fascinating project, and I hope to hear the years from 1976 to 2010 some time in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for your review. I'm glad you caught the spirit of the CD, and enjoyied its unique features. Please include a link to buy it: or