João Kouyoumdjian, Classical Guitar
Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994)
1. Surfboard (arr. Paulo Bellinati)
2. Bate-Boca (arr. Paulo Bellinati)
3. Garoto (Choro) (arr. Paulo Bellinati)
Garoto (Annibal Augusto Sardinha) (1915-1955)
4. Lamentos do Morro (trans. Paulo Bellinati)
5. Jorge do Fusa (trans. Paulo Bellinati)
6. Gente Humilde (arr. Paulo Bellinati)
João Pernambuco (1883-1947)
7. Sons de Carrilhões (arr. Carlos Barbosa-Lima) *
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
8. Prélude No. 5
9. Étude No. 3
10. Chôros No. 1
Marco Pereira (b. 1950)
Chico Buarque/Edu Lobo (b. 1944/ b. 1943)
12. Beatriz (arr. Marco Pereira)
Ricardo Calderoni (b. 1980)
13. Balaio (from Suíte Dois Povos) **
Raimundo Penaforte (b. 1961)
Two Pieces for Guitar Solo **
* Premiere Recording of Carlos Barbosa-Lima arrangement
** Premiere Recording- Composed and dedicated to João Kouyoumdjian
"A Brazilian-Armenian guitarist of distinction"- Classical Guitar Magazine (UK)
" Brilliant. Full of life and colors. A delightful collection of musical jewels, played with sensitivity and taste" - Lorenzo Micheli (SoloDuo)
"Pays homage to Brazilian guitar, breaking every frontier that still may exist between classical and popular music"- Paulo Bellinati
A Pomegranate Music Production
Produced by: João Kouyoumdjian
Executive Producer: Raffi Meneshian
Recorded and Mastered by: Iakovos Kolanian
Recorded and Mastered at Kolanian Studios- Athens, Greece (January 2013)
Design: Arsineh Valladian
Photography: Gilberto Tadday
Liner Notes: João Kouyoumdjian
Liner Notes Editor: Arto Vaun
João Kouyoumdjian performs on a 2005 Sérgio Abreu guitar
While Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) is known worldwide for his songs, the set of three pieces on this album reveal another side of his music, which is purely characterized by instrumental works. They were originally composed for bossa nova ensembles but are here presented in guitar arrangements by Paulo Bellinati. The title of this album, Surfboard, comes from the piece Surfboard, composed in a fast-paced harmonic speech, rhythmically broken down by its regular patterns of rests. Even though this piece is structured in chord progressions, the top line – a graceful and uplifting melodic line – naturally stands out. Bate-Boca is one of Jobim’s first instrumental pieces. It makes use of a recurrent flowing pattern of sixteenth notes, often times resembling a moto perpetuo movement. One can argue that due to its playful construction it suggests an intense discussion between two people, as the title indicates (Bate-Boca is slang for an often unpleasant discussion). Garoto (Choro) displays smooth, sophisticated harmonies and elegant lyricism. The arranger, Paulo Bellinati, added a dynamic and intricate passage that suggests an improvisation over the basic harmonic structure.
The piece Garoto (Choro), by Antônio Carlos Jobim, pays homage to Brazilian guitarist and composer Annibal Augusto Sardinha, a.k.a Garoto, (1915-1955). He was one of the strongest predecessors of bossa nova, which combined traditional samba with jazz and arose in the late 1950s. Garoto performed and composed in the 40s and 50s, in an era when samba was still rooted in its traditional form. One would hear it in the hills of Rio de Janeiro (the favelas), where the style was developed. Garoto, with his accentuated syncopations and colorful harmonies, was already modernizing traditional samba under the growing influence of jazz. In fact, Garoto toured the US along side the Brazilian group Bando da Lua and legendary Brazilian singer and cultural icon Carmen Miranda. In addition to being a collaborative performer, Garoto also composed important works for solo guitar. One of his most well-known and oft performed pieces is the samba Lamentos do Morro. Its fame among guitarists derives from the Brazilian idiomatic qualities that Garoto condensed: strong syncopation, elaborated harmonies and vivid character. The piece Jorge do Fusa is an example of his craft in composing well-balanced pieces divided into contrasting sections. As it presents upbeat rhythms, cromaticisms and technically challenging passages, Jorge do Fusa supports the many testimonials of the composer’s impressive skills. The song Gente Humilde evokes the humbleness of the Brazilian people. The melody is remarkably beautiful and Brazilian poets Vinícius de Moraes and Chico Buarque wrote lyrics to the piece, turning it into a song that became famous nationwide.
Another important Brazilian guitarist and composer from the early 20th century was João Pernambuco (1883-1947). The magnitude of João Pernambuco’s works is validated by a testimonial of Heitor Villa-Lobos, who once stated: Bach wouldn’t be ashamed of considering the authorship of João Pernambuco’s Etudes as his. Even though most of João Pernambuco’s works for guitar are key for a full comprehension of the Brazilian guitar’s swinging and romantic spirit, one of his pieces stands out for its charisma. Sons de Carrilhões, composed as a maxixe, a style that later led to the development of samba. On this album the simplicity of the piece is dressed in a polyphonic arrangement by Carlos Barbosa-Lima.
Some of the music produced in South America in the first half of the 20th century significantly narrows the line separating popular and classical music. This is evident in works by Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), the most prominent Brazilian classical composer. In some ways, his collection of Cinq Préludes is an example of folkloric influences. His Prélude No 5 is a lyrical piece divided into three contrasting sections and a masterpiece in classical guitar literature. It intelligently uses different registers, tonalities, tempos and other compositional devices in a way to highlight the expressive potential of the piece and the instrument’s best qualities. Villa-Lobos brings to life the character of longing in the second section by choosing the lower register of the bass, making use of melodic leaps, writing expressive glissandos, exploring the key of b minor and using a slower tempo. In contrast, his Étude No. 3 showcases avant-garde tendencies. The piece is part of Villa-Lobos’ series of Douze Études, a seminal collection of works in the classical guitar repertoire. As with any étude, it is designed to challenge the performer in one specific technique of the instrument. The focus of Étude No. 3 is on the technique of ligados, explored through many different angles and generating a varying atmosphere. More than in any of his works for guitar, the combination of classical and popular music is displayed in his Chôros No. 1. As the title suggests, it preserves many aspects of a typical Brazilian choro in terms of the formal structure and idiomatic flourishes.
Most pieces here presented display an inclination towards the Brazilian urban 20th century styles of samba and choro. However, Brazilian music showcases a far larger array of styles grounded in different areas of the country. One of the many other Brazilian styles is forró, a traditional dance from the northeastern parts of Brazil. The piece Bate-Coxa represents this style and is a lively piece by Brazilian guitarist Marco Pereira (b. 1950). Marco Pereira is also the arranger of the song Beatriz, one of the most precious jewels in the Brazilian songbook. Composed in the early 80s in a partnership between Brazilian composers Chico Buarque (b. 1944) and Edu Lobo (b. 1943), the song integrates the musical O Grande Circo Místico (“The Great Mystic Circus”). The lyrics to this melancholy song depict the homonymic character Beatriz, a circus tumbler in conflict between reality and her inner world.
In addition to revisiting the Brazilian guitar tradition, this album also presents new works by Brazilian contemporary composers. Such pieces offer a contrast to the works described above, given their more contemporary and personal language. Interestingly, these new composers keep the core of their works under the umbrella of Brazilian music by using figures, gestures and rhythms that are unmistakably Brazilian.
Ricardo Calderoni (b. 1980) is a Brazilian contemporary composer from São Paulo. His work is characterized by an eclectic style under significant influence from jazz and often using Brazilian musical elements in a fresh and modern way. According to the composer, the Suíte Dois Povos (“Two Peoples Suite”) is a two-movement work inspired by Brazilian and Spanish music. The second movement, Balaio, was chosen for this album due to its Brazilian influences. The blend of native Brazilian, European, and African cultures reflects the immense melting pot which defines Brazil. Balaio creates a vibrant and joyful atmosphere that reflects the Brazilian way of life.
Raimundo Penaforte (b. 1961) is a Brazilian composer from Pernambuco, whose integration of Brazilian music is free of clichés. Two Pieces for Guitar Solo is his first work composed for solo classical guitar. It consists of two contrasting pieces: Prelúdio and Zurraço. Prelúdio was originally composed for guitar quartet and integrates a larger work entitled Quartetice. The piece was rewritten for solo guitar in 2011. According to Mr. Penaforte, this dreamy song-like piece features an elaborated harmonic accompaniment that mixes European impressionism with Brazilian bossa. The mellow character of this piece is supported by the usage of artificial harmonics, creating illusions of additional instruments echoing far away. In clear contrast, Zurraço is easily recognized as a Brazilian-made piece. It features the characteristic upbeat rhythms and playfulness of Brazilian music. The name Zurraço comes from Penaforte’s own poem that shares the same title. It means a superlative term for the sound produced by a donkey. After a slow and foreboding introduction, a theme is presented and then followed by a recurrent principal section. This section is highlighted by a low bass in a five-note chord played sans arpeggio by adding the right-hand pinky finger, a neglected finger in standard guitar technique.
The intent of this survey of solo guitar works from Brazil is to give the listener an echo of the past, while looking ahead toward the future. Much like Brazil itself, the music presented in this collection is lively, diverse and sophisticated. In my journey to create and record this album, I have rediscovered my musical roots through the music that has always been around me.
- João Kouyoumdjian