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Brasileira: Piano Music by Brazilian Women
Maria Helena Rosas FERNANDES (b. 1933) Prelúdio [1:29]; Valsa [2:30]
Kilza SETTI (b. 1932) Cinco Peças sobre Mucama Bonita [3:35]
Adelaide Pereira da SILVA (b. 1928) Valsa-Chôro No. 2 [3:11]; Suite No. 2 [5:44]
Chiquinha GONZAGA (1845-1935) Corta-Jaca (Brazilian Tango) [2:12]; Meditação [2:26]; Atraente (Polka) [3:09]
Nininha GREGORI (b. 1925) Cenas Brasileiras [13:32]
Maria Luizi PRIOLLI (1915-2000) Arabesco [1:46]; Lundu Carioca [1:36]
Clarisse LEITE (1917-2003) Suite Nordestina [7:54]
Branca BILLHAR (1887-1936) Samba Sertanejo [4:13]
Luciana Soares (piano)
rec. January 2003; Marsh Auditorium, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. DDD



It is fascinating to discover how important it was for young Brazilian women to have the ability to play the piano. From the mid-eighteenth century onwards it was a means of boosting their eligibility for marriage. This inevitably led to a number of women composers of piano music in Brazil, of which this disc introduces eight from the late-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth.

Most of the pieces are short and light, suggesting perhaps that they - at least the composers represented here - weren’t particularly drawn to substantial works of more depth. There is a mix of local and European influences in this mostly Romantic disc, which doesn’t necessarily convince the listener that there is much more out there to look out for, but which certainly makes for pleasant listening.

The disc opens with two brief works by Maria Helena Rosas Fernandes, of whom I would like to have heard a little more. The imaginative harmonic content of these two short pieces, Prelúdio and Valsa provide some of the most interesting writing on the disc; the almost overriding influence of Chopin can plainly be heard within the subtly chromatic and guitar-like accompaniment.

Based on a Brazilian folk tune, the five variations on Mucama Bonita of 1978 by Kilza Setti are not the most inventive, with only the shortest and simplest of themes to work with. A return to the influence of Chopin blended with rich harmony that would almost be at home in a cocktail lounge, is found in the more interesting Valse-Chôro No. 2 by Adelaide Pereira da Silva. This work is the second of a series of ten that charts the evolution of the waltz in Brazil since the eighteenth century. Composed only a year later in 1966 the Suite No. 2 also by da Silva is a convincing portrait of the wide range of Brazilian musical influence.

Three short pieces by the earliest composer on this disc, Chiquinha Gonzaga, focus on three genres – the maxixe, the waltz and the polka. The maxixe was associated with poverty and immorality and is therefore disguised with the title Brazilian Tango. The music of Nininha Gregori follows, and rather than being particularly progressive further depicts aspects of Brazilian life.

The Arabesco by Maria Luiza Priolli provides a short relief from the nationalistic nature of the music on this disc, which returns with her Lundu Carioca that follows. While the Suite Nordestina by Clarisse Leite continues the Brazilian influence the final work on the disc by Branca Bilhar, Samba Sertanejo, is representative of a type of salon music from the early twentieth century that is improvisatory in nature.

Luciana Soares - of whom there is no biography in the booklet - gives musical, interesting and seemingly accurate performances, which are complemented by a clean recorded sound, not lacking in depth.

Adam Binks





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