One might expect from these
titles that this music is brilliantly and colourfully orchestrated,
filled with exotic rhythms and sounds, and one would be correct.
The notes explain why it is that some of it sounds very much
like Respighi, and some of it does not.
Brazil has a long and deep
musical tradition so we should not be surprised that the São
Paolo Symphony Orchestra is a world class ensemble and is able
to play this complicated music brilliantly and with an assurance
that makes them the envy of some better known ensembles. Conductor
Neschling, born in Argentina of Austrian parents, studied in
— and built a solid reputation in — Europe before returning
home to take charge of this orchestra. He also composed the
score to the film “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”
Composer Mignone was born
in São Paulo, Brazil, of Italian parents, part of an Italian
musical culture from which emerged pianist Guiomar Novaes.
In 1920, at the age of 23, Mignone went to Milan to study for
five years. A number of his works of this period were presented
by Strauss, Serafin and other famous conductors.
This is very original music.
If in the next sentences I compare the sound to other composers
it is only because of similarities in style, or brief reminiscences.
I don’t mean that Mignone has copied anyone. He condemned himself
for sounding too much like Puccini, but I think that is not
the first comparison a listener would make — Respighi or early
Ginastera would come to mind first. Festa das Igrejas
(Think Spanish: Fiesta de las Iglesias) consists of four
tone poems descriptive of the moods of four famous Brazilian
churches. Dramatically it builds from a quiet opening to a rousing
finale, quoting church melodies and Brazilian musical styles.
Sinfonia Tropical begins mysteriously and proceeds on
a course about exactly half-way between Ginastera and Villa-Lobos,
with just a whiff of Copland or Sibelius here and there. A
flute tune seems reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka.
At the rousing, suspenseful finale we move rather decisively
in the direction of Respighi. Maracatu de Chico Rei
is the earliest music on the disk, descriptive of a Brazilian
festival with some African origins, and it is the most rousing,
finishing with the chorus chanting rhythmically along with a
riotous dance movement which may again remind you of Ginastera.
This music is not dangerous
competition for Respighi’s Roman Trilogy. However, if you enjoy
Respighi but are disappointed by his Sinfonia Drammatica
and not too excited over Belkis Queen of Sheba, you’ll
love the music on this disk. Recording quality is BIS’s usually
stunning standard, probably ready for issue on SACD at the proper