Program Notes By Eric Bromberger
ANIBAL SARDINHA “GAROTO”
Born June 28, 1915, São Paulo
Died May 3, 1955, São Paulo
Garoto was a Brazilian composer and guitarist. He was “mainly” a classical guitarist, but also played the banjo, ukulele, mandolin, tenor guitar, electric guitar, Hawaiian, and Portuguese guitar in addition to being a composer and arranger for these instruments.
He was one of the greatest Brazilian guitarists of all time having influenced musicians like João Gilberto, Raphael Rabello among many others. During his very brief life, besides having his solo career, he recorded with artists such as Carmen Miranda, Dorival Caymmi and Ary Barroso.
His influence in the Brazilian guitar world is legendary and The Assads have prepared specially for tonight’s program a short medley of three of his best known works: Jorge do Fusa, Gente humilde and Lamentos do Morro.
– Sérgio Assad
Born August 6, 1937, Rio de Janeiro
Died September 26, 2000, Rio de Janeiro
Known simply as Baden Powell, he was one of the most prominent and most celebrated Brazilian guitarists of his time. He explored the instrument to its utmost limits, playing it in a distinctive, unique manner, incorporating virtuoso classical techniques together with popular harmony and swing. He performed in many styles, including bossa nova, samba, Brazilian jazz, Latin jazz and música popular brasileira. He performed on stage during most of his lifetime, and recorded an extensive discography composed of LP and CD albums produced in Brazil and Europe, particularly in France and Germany. The Assads like many other Brazilian guitarists, have been influenced by Baden and pay their tribute to him in an arrangements of one of his most famous works, Tempo Feliz.
– Sérgio Assad
Homenagem as nossas raizes
A note from the composer:
Homenagem as nossas raizes is a composition written by Sérgio Assad paying tribute to his origins. The ancestors of the Assads were immigrants from Lebanon and Italy who arrived in Brazil at the end of the XIX century. This composition is a tribute to them and mixes the Italian lyricism with Arab rhythms and modes.
– Sérgio Assad
Milonga per tre
Born March 11, 1921, Mar del Plata, Argentina
Died July 4, 1992, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Very early in life Astor Piazzolla became a virtuoso on the bandoneon, the Argentinian accordion-like instrument that uses buttons rather than a keyboard. He gave concerts, made a film soundtrack, and created his own bands before a desire for wider expression drove him to study classical music. In 1954 he received a grant to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and it was that great teacher who advised him to follow his passion for the Argentinian tango as the source for his own music. Piazzolla returned to Argentina and transformed this old Argentinian dance into music capable of a variety of expression: his tangos are by turn fiery, melancholy, passionate, tense, violent, lyric, and always driven by an endless supply of rhythmic energy.
“Milonga” has a complex range of meanings. Originally a fast dance popular in Uruguay and Argentina at the end of the nineteenth century, the term has come to mean something so broad as the place or the occasion when tangos are performed. Though the milonga may have begun as a fast dance, Piazzolla’s Milonga per tre is set at a much slower tempo. One of Piazzolla’s most popular works, the Milonga per tre comes from the sultry side of the tango.
A Medley of Charlie Chaplin
A note from the composer:
Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, better known as Charlie Chaplin was an actor, director, producer, comedian, entrepreneur, writer, comedian dancer, screenwriter and British musician. Chaplin was one of the most famous actors of the silent era, distinguishing himself by the use of mime and slapstick comedy. It is well known for her films The Immigrant, The Kid, Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, and a Countess from Hong Kong. Chaplin composed most of the music for his films and managed to create big international hits like the song smile for instance. Sérgio Assad worked in 4 of his most known songs and created a medley that goes beyond the simply song compilation. It is a compositional work around Chaplin’s themes.
– Sérgio Assad
The Last Song for Cello, Two Guitars and Piano
Clarice Assad is a touching song written for cello, piano and two guitars especially for the musical collaboration of The Assad Brothers with Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott. This song was featured in an American tour called Viva Brazil that happened in 2012.
– Sérgio Assad
Mourão for Cello, Two Guitars and Piano
Born March 18, 1914, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died November 26, 1993, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
César Guerra-Peixe was a powerful force in Brazilian music, and his talent took many forms: he was a violinist, a composer, a teacher, and an ethnomusicologist much devoted to the cause of native Brazilian music. He was also a prolific film composer. His Mourão is a based on what might almost be described as a Brazilian fiddletune, full of energy and infectious in its foot-tapping charm. Mourão has been arranged for an endless number of ensembles, from full symphony orchestra to tiny chamber groups.
Born August 6, 1895, Guanabacoa, Cuba
Died November 29, 1963, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona was a prodigy, playing the piano and composing as a boy and graduating from the National Conservatory in Havana at 17. He studied briefly with Spanish composer Joaquin Turina before turning to a career in popular music. Lecuona toured the Western Hemisphere and Europe with a rumba band called Lecuona’s Cuban Boys, then settled in New York City, where he composed music for shows–he has been called the Cuban equivalent of George Gershwin. Throughout his life, Lecuona was in love with dance music, and he wrote countless dances, whether congas, rumbas, waltzes, folk dances. The Conga heard on this program is one of his many works in this form.
7 Canciones Españolas
MANUEL DE FALLA
Born November 23, 1876, Cádiz, Spain
Died November 14, 1946, Alta Gracia, Argentina
Spanish composer Manuel de Falla composed his 7 Canciones Españolas (Seven Popular Spanish Songs) in Paris in 1914, just as World War I forced him to return to his native Spain. This set of songs has become popular in its many instrumental arrangements, and this evening’s recital offers the rare opportunity to hear Falla’s songs sung with the accompaniment of two guitars.
The first two songs both come from the province of Murcia in southeast Spain. El paño moruno or “The Moorish Cloth” (Allegretto vivace) is based exactly on the famous song, while Seguidilla murciana is built on repeated phrases and quick harmonic shifts. Asturiana (Andante tranquillo) is a grieving tune from Asturia, a province in the northwest part of Spain; the vocal line floats above a quiet sixteenth-note accompaniment. Jota (Allegro vivo) has become the best-known of the seven songs. A jota is a dance in triple time from the Aragon region of northern Spain, sometimes accompanied by castanets. Slow sections alternate with fast here, and the piano imitates the sound of castanets. Nana (Calmo e sostenuto) is an arrangement of a wistful old Andalusian cradle song; Falla said that hearing this melody sung to him by his mother was his earliest memory. Canción (Allegretto) is a subdued lovesong that repeats one theme continuously. A polo is a specific form: an Andalusian folksong or dance in 3/8 time, sometimes with coloratura outbursts and explosive intrusions from the guitar (which the piano imitates here). This particular Polo (Vivo), while based on Andalusian elements, is largely Falla’s own composition.
Chick Corea has made his reputation as a jazz pianist, though his music combines elements of jazz, fusion, and Latin elements. No Mystery, one of his most famous compositions, was originally part of his 1975 album Return to Forever, an album that won Corea a Grammy that year for Best Jazz Performance.
Born November 14, 1900, Brooklyn, New York
Died December 2, 1990, Sleepy Hollow, New York<br
Aaron Copland wrote the score for the ballet Rodeo for Agnes de Mille, who danced the role of the Cowgirl at the première on October 16, 1942. The ballet was a huge success–it ran for 79 performances in its first year alone–and the Four Dance Episodes Copland drew from the ballet have become one of his most popular concert works. Hoe-Down is the last of those four dances. Copland based Hoe-Down on two principal themes: the fiddle-tune “Bonyparte” and a variant of the old Scottish dance “McLeod’s Reel.” This movement brings the climax and conclusion of the ballet: the square dance is interrupted by the appearance of the Cowgirl in her dress, the men compete for her, and the tempo gradually slows to the quiet chord that marks the moment when the Head Wrangler kisses the Cowgirl. Instantly the music explodes, powering ahead on a shaft of frantic energy that drives Rodeo to its close on three great stamping chords.
This concert concludes with two famous tangos–Invierno porteño and Verano porteño–by Astor Piazzolla, both of them originally written for the small ensemble he led in Buenos Aires of violin, piano, electric guitar, bass, and bandoneon. The meaning of porteño is elusive: it means “port” area, and it specifically has come to refer to the port area of Buenos Aires, where the tango was born. By extension, porteños has come to mean anyone or anything native to Buenos Aires. These two tangos are part of a group of four, each inspired by one of the seasons, that Piazzolla sometimes performed jointly under the title Las cuatro estaciones porteñas, roughly “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.” Invierno porteño (Winter) dates originally from 1964, while Verano porteño (Summer) was composed five years later.