Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Gig-a-Blog™ ("Classical Brazil", St Anne & St Agnes)

Monday, 25 February 2008

The church was packed for this rather wonderful recital of Brazilian music featuring the soprano Penelope White das Graças.

The first two pieces were groups of four and three songs for voice and piano (Helen Glaisher-Hernández) by Henrique and Guarnieri respectively. These were mostly light, entirely pleasant and interpreted with great clarity and conviction. I wouldn't want to insult H&G fans by saying they sounded similar (to the untutored ear perhaps, but not to ahem an expert like your current blogographer), but I think it might at least be fair to identify them as being - broadly speaking - from the same kind of tradition. Or something. Their dates are interesting - they both span more or less the entire 20th century: Henrique was born in 1905, two years before Guarnieri, and outlived him by another two years, dying in 1995.

Quite different territory was entered with the third piece, a pair of highly evocative nature scenes for voice and cello by Diego Carneiro d'Oliveira (b. 1981), who just happened to be the rather fine cellist for this piece as well as its composer and lyricist. This was proper, interesting, brave, modern music and provided an excellent contrast with the considerable but more conventional lovelinesses of the first two pieces. White das Graças has a really great range of vocal tone which illuminated this whole programme and especially this new music.

The last piece was Villa Lobos' Bachianas Brasilieras no. 5. It's one of those works that makes you go "oh that old potboiler", which is just lavishly unfair because of course it's popular because it's good, rather than bad because it's popular. It's unfortunate that ignorance and lack of imagination in the media mean that unless you stick strictly to Radio 3 (and no telly) you'll hear this work more times a year than is reasonable: but this doesn't detract from its being rather fine music. It received an excellent outing today, conducted by Eder Paulozzi: Penelope White das Graças was once again just fabulous and Diego Carneiro d'Oliveira led the cellos with a fantastic, committed performance in which his focus on the soprano shone out like a beacon.

I must just add that this great gig was part of what seems to be a sort of series-within-a-series: that is, it's in the main SS A&A lunchtime series but, like a few other concerts, it's presented by ILAMS, the Iberian and Latin American Music Society. I've missed the others so far but this one was terrific so I must try to make it along to some others.


aphilipwhite said...

You're impressed by the voice and musicality of Penelope White-das Gracas. So am I! She was just as fab at St James' Picc. earlier.She aims to return next summer/autumn. Do you want details? London,Geneva & Lausanne probably. If you want to know more, then email to this address. Regards - Strawberries and Cream, GB.

Strawberryyog said...

Thanks for your comment! I think that the email has been zapped by the blogging system, as I don't see one anywhere, but feel free to post a URL. Cheers.

Penelope said...


I just wanted to let you know that I am performing again in London and would love to invite you.

Unfortunately (or perhaps it is fortunately...) my organisational skills are less developed that my performance one and as it is I and my pianist Ivan producing the concert, I have been a little off with my timing in inviting you...

The concert is actually this Saturday (24th) at The Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair at 7.30pm.

The repertoire is Britten - A Charm of Lullabies, Mahler Kindertotenlieder, Valsa da Dor - Villa-Lobos and a selection of opera scenes with baritone Bruno Santino.

It is all in aid of the orphanage in which I set up a music project ... we are trying to raise funds to set up the adolescents composition group.

I know it is very late notice, however I hope you will be able to make it! If you would like to email me I would be happy to add you to my guest list.


Kindest regards,


Strawberryyog said...

Hi Penelope,

Thanks very much for the comment, the news, and the invitation. Sadly I doubt we can make it as we're going away very early on Sunday morning, but have a great gig anyway. I've taken the liberty of reposting its details at the top of my blog.

Best wishes,