Cesar Guerra-Peixe: More Brazilian Treasures

I don’t know how the average Brazilian feels about their government. But they should be proud of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry has joined forces with Naxos to bring the classical music of Brazil to the world. 

And the world’s a better place for it. Heitor Villa-Lobos may be the most famous Brazilian composer outside the country. But he has plenty of rivals inside it. Rivals in terms of quality, imagination, and innovation. 

This release features three works by Cesar Guerra-Peixe. He was a composer who comfortably lived in the worlds of classical and popular music. He produced music for radio broadcasts, documentaries, and feature films. His work as an ethnomusicologist was unparalleled. 

His book on northeastern Brazilian music, Os Maracatus do Recife, is still a primary source for the subject. And that knowledge of native Brazilian music permeated his own work. 

The Concertino for Violin and Orchestra is his most famous and popular composition. In it, the violinist mimics the sound of the rabeca (fiddle). It’s an earthy sound, and one violinist Abner Landim delivers convincingly. 

The Concertino was written in 1972, and this release features two other works from that time. A Retirada da Laguna (1971) is a multi-movement tone poem. It depicts the battle of Laguna, a turning point in the Paraguayan War of 1864-70. Not to worry. You don’t need to know Brazilian history to get caught up in the drama and pageantry of this piece. 

The Museu da Inconfidencia (Museum of the Inconfidência) also has historical references. Each movement depicts a museum exhibit. Collectively they document the failed 1789 rebellion for independence.

Guerra-Peixe doesn’t just recycle folk melodies. Rather, the elements of Brazilian music are an integral part of his style. That gives his music an unusual sound, and one I found quite appealing. 

Goias Philharmonic Orchestra; Neil Thomson, conductor delivers some inspired performances here. So well done, Ministry!

Cesar Guerra-Peixe: A Retiada da Laguna
Concertino; Museu da Inconfidência
Abner Landim, violin
Goias Phiharmonic Orchestra; Neil Thomson, conductor

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