Review of Suite Candanga by Alvaro Henrique, Centaur Records, 2013
Perhaps this review should be written by an architect, surely fond of music, maybe a follower of the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who worked with Le Corbusier, one of the main architects of this city, Brasilia, considered by many a middle ground between the functional desire of a capital and the willingness of an utopia, a tabula rasa architecture from which to build the city of the future, perhaps the last great positive momentum of a giant and generous country before falling under a military dictatorship.
Brasilia then, a celebration of modernism and architecture .. but the music and Brasilia? Quite rightly the Brazilian guitarist Alvaro Henrique asks in the booklet that accompanies this CD … and the music? What about contemporary music? Already where was the contemporary music when Brasilia was raised? Tropicalism, as a movement and music scene, was still to come … but something could be done for the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the city. This was how it was decided this CD, with three new compositions commissioned for the occasion, one by composer Jorge Antunes, who lives in Brasilia, the second by Carlos Alberto da Silva, also Brazilian, and the third by a composer who has lived abroad (Mario Ferraro). This CD, as you can easily imagine, strongly Brazilian, begins with an arrangement of Alvaro Henrique of Grand Triumphal Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem, Op 62, by the American pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk.
The piece by Carlos Alberto da Silva, from Pernambuco, is titled The Reconstruction of Brasilia, and it uses the melody of the national anthem to recreate the utopia of the “Spirit of Brasilia” in the twenty-first century.
The “Little Suite from Brasilia”, by Mario Ferraro, presents a composition in five movements that describes the characteristics of the Brazilian capital, like the beauty of the sunset at the Central Plateau and the delicacy of its local flowers.
Jorge Antunes, in the “Brasilia 50,” wrote a work in 16 parts in which each movement depicts historical events who took place during the first Brasilia’ 50 years. It includes the murder of John Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the first moon landing. Perhaps this is the most complex composition, but also the most interesting: it was made for guitar and tape, where the recorded tape includes excerpts of interviews, speeches and other songs that help the listener to figure out which event is dedicated each movement.
This CD, in addition to celebrating an anniversary, it was also a good idea to re-think in musical terms about this political and architectural myth, it is a very interesting project that could be taken as a model by other guitarists and composers. In the past music and architecture often go hand in hand in common effort to create not only physical places suitable in creating and listening to the music, but above all as an example of a mutual exchange of ideas and inspiration, just think about Xenakis and Le Corbusier. It would not hurt to resume these habits. Alvaro Henrique is a very good guitarist. Recommended record.