Ceso Machado (n. 1953) – 1. Pacoca (Choro), 2. Piazza Vittorio (Choro maxixe), 3. Pe de moleque (Samba choro)
4. Quebra Queixo (Choro)
Bela Bartok (1881-1945) – Sase dansuri populare romanesti (Six Romanian Folk Dances): 5. Jocul cu bâtă
6. Brâul, 7. Pe loc, 8. Buciumeana, 9. Poarga românească, 10. Mărunțelul
Ariel Ramirez (1921-2010) – 11. Alfonsina y el mar
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) – L’histoire du Tango: 12. Bordel 1900, 13. Cafe 1930, 14. Nightclub 1960, 15. Concert d’aujour’hui
Jorge Morel (n. 1931) – 16. Danza brasilera
Miroslav Tadic (n.1959) – Patru piese macedonene (Four Macedonian Pieces): 17. Zajdi, Zajdi, 18. Pajdushka, 19. Jovka Kumanovka, 20. Gajdarsko oro
Exoticism, subtle nuances, primary emotions – these are outstanding characteristics of the music on the CD Twenty Shades of Music. Oscillating between Latin America and the Balkans, the program offers everything these antipodes have in common: the taste for the folk spirit, old and new, cosmopolite and pure, melancholic and vibrant, rich in archetypes and with vital breath, but also the unique mix between joy and sadness, gathered for generations of tumultuous history, mirrored in the intense expression of tragedy with melody and dance triumphing over it.
In Brazilan music, the guitar occupies a prominent place, due to its spread and the folk tradition, being an instrument always present in orchestras of Choro and samba. Guitar player and composer Celso Machado (b. 1953) represents the present musical current in his country, generically entitled MPB (musica popular brasilera), in which both the traditional genres and popular motives are found as well as the complex harmonic and rhythmic sonorities, inherited from bossa nova style. Most of the songs selected on the CD, although hiding some dances, have unusual names of local sweets: Paçoca is a staple food, composed of Yuca flour and sugar, Quebra Queixo – a coconut candy – , while Pé de moleque is a cake with hazelnuts.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, more and more composers, especially from Central and Eastern Europe, started to use in their work the original folk melodies and translate them into the classical music language. The Six Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945) capture musical traditions from Transylvania, in original songs stamped with ethnomusicological spirit by the great Hungarian composer. Himself a native of Banat, Bartók is, in fact, one of the greatest gatherers of Romanian folklore, with over five thousand archived songs. Regarding the modern harmonization of the authentic folk songs, the composer defines the process as: „nothing else than a frame placed around an essential element, the peasant song, which presents it like a diamond in its setting”. Satisfied with the result, Bartók made versions for solo piano and orchestra, the success of the small suite provoking much other instrumentation.
Alfonsina y el mar is one of the most popular and beloved South American songs. Composed by Ariel Ramirez (1921 – 2010), a legend in Argentinian music, on lyrics by Felix Luna, the song tells the tragic end of the postmodern poet Alfonsina Storni, who, being sick and lonely, committed suicide by drowning in the sea, on October 25, 1938. There are countless vocal versions – among others with famous singers, like José Carreras, Placido Domingo, Mercedes Sosa, Lara Fabian and others – but also arrangements for one or more instruments.
The most substantial title on the CD, L’histoire du Tango by Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992) illustrates four scenes on the triumphal path of the Argentinian emblematic dance, in the Brothels and Cafes of the beginning of the twentieth century, and up to the sophisticated dimensions of the current Concert Tango. Founder and brilliant exponent of tango nuevo style, Piazzolla studied composition in Paris with the legendary Nadia Boulanger, who pushed him to discover his very own voice by returning to his cultural roots. Superior musical education helped him in creating a style in which one can find the most diverse influences – Bach’s polyphony, Debussy’s impressionism, the modernity of the neo-modalism – all subordinate to the expression and passionate rhythm of tango. Forming a quintet of violin, guitar, piano, double bass and placing in the centre the symbol-instrument of the Argentinean music – the bandoneon, played by the composer himself – Piazzolla transformed the Tango into authentic concert music, in which dance no longer occupies the main place.
Argentinian-American composer and guitar player Jorge Morel (b. 1931) displays an eclectic style, encompassing both jazz harmonies and Latin American melodies and rhythms. In Danza brasilera, one of his most famous pieces, Morel opts for a simple but exhilarating sonority, mainly on the rhythm of samba-bossa nova.
Miroslav Tadic (b. 1958) concentrates in the Four Macedonian Songs the whole expressive range of folk music in the Western Balkans: Albanian, Turkish, Gypsy echoes, asymmetric meter, alert dance and free, mournful recitative, are found in inspired arrangements of some songs belonging to the Macedonian cultural and historical identity. Zajdi, Zajdi is a pastoral song that evokes the passage of time: the shepherd tells the mountain that, by the time he will renew his leaves in the spring, his youth will never return. With a richly ornamented song and an ambiguous play between major and minor, Zajdi, Zajdi is well-known throughout the former Yugoslavia. After a dynamic dance in 5/8 Pajdushka, Jovka Kumanovka, authentic unofficial anthem of Macedonia, tells the story of a girl from Kumanovo, who is suited by Latif, a young Turkish. But Jovka refuses answering: „I will not become Turkish, because I love another man, I love Kostadin”. The small suite ends with a virtuosic adaptation for flute and guitar of a dance practiced mostly in Macedonia and Bulgaria – Gajdarsko oro.
(English version by Anca Vidaeff – Ștefănescu)