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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Antonio Francisco BRAGA (1868 - 1945)
Cauchemar (1895) (7.06)
Jupyra opera in one act, sung in Italian (1899) (70.26)
Eliane Coelho, Rosana Lamosa, sopranos;
Mario Carrara, tenor; Phillip Johl, baritone.
Coro da orquestra de São Paulo, Naomi Munakata, director
Orquestra de São Paolo/John Neschling
Notes in English, Portuguese, and French. Opera text in Italian, no translation.
Recorded at Sala São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, February and October 2001
BIS CD-1280 [78.20]



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The tone poem Cauchemar, (track 1) which means "nightmare" in Portuguese, is much a product of its time, similar in tone to contemporaneous works by Schoenberg, Massenet, Stravinsky and Schmitt. This is not surprising since the composer was studying in Europe at the time. Despite the title, there is nothing terribly frightening about the music which has a mood rather somewhere between the Rienzi overture of Wagner and something by Nielsen.

The opera Jupyra has as its story a rather typical girl-loves-boy, boy-loves-another-girl, girl-has-boy-killed, girl-commits-suicide plot, providing, as you can see, all sorts of opportunities for intensely passionate music. Overall I could believe I was listening to La Boheme or maybe Cavalleria Rusticana. The Orquestra de São Paulo is a world class ensemble and plays beautifully and with commitment. The singers all have international careers and bring the whole thing off in first class style. There are some hummable tunes, some very tense orchestral interludes, and some wrenchingly passionate ensembles (tracks 5 and 13).

The composer was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1868, orphaned at the age of 8 and sent to a home for abandoned children. There he began his music studies, eventually entering the conservatory and earning in 1890 a scholarship to study in Europe. His early works were performed in Dresden. Jupyra was almost translated into German and performed there by Hermann Levi! The picture of the composer looks like a right Parisian dandy, with pince-nez, cigar, and marcelled hair; his return to Rio in 1900 for the premier of Jupyra must have raised some eyebrows.

He was a teacher of Villa-Lobos but remained a European at heart and took scant interest in modern Brazilian music. He remained active in Brazilian musical circles composing nothing more of consequence and died in Rio in 1945.

Persons specially interested in Latin American music must have this disk, as should persons wanting one more Puccini opera.

Paul Shoemaker



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