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Gismonti, Egberto: Saudações

Egberto Gismonti is one of the most prolific and gifted musicians in the world. With the release of this disc, he has set out to show the scope and range of his musical abilities. On this 2 CD set, Gismonti devotes the first disc to his orchestral suite; Sertões Veredas – Tribute to Miscegenation and the second disc is filled with some of his best guitar work, both solo and in duet with his son Alexandre.

The seven movements that make up the Sertões Veredas suite are meant to take you on a musical journey through Gismonti's native land of Brazil. He enlists the all female Camerate Romeu chamber orchestra from Cuba to become your tour guides.

I would have to say that this expedition with Egberto is a rocky road to travel. With the best intentions at heart he has produced a work that fails to capture or keep the interest of the listener for very long. It is a very disjointed effort with no flow or consistency. Instead of instilling a feeling of what he is trying to express, the music on this disc seems to be more of a soundtrack to some unknown movie. Instead of leading you to where he wants to take you, each movement seems to be a background accompaniment without the benefit of seeing the motion picture.

This is not to say that there are not some very good moments. I am most attracted to the seventh movement with its beautiful violin work. In fact there are sections throughout that are simply stunning but it is a most uneven work and just uninspiring. His composition skills are clearly evident and I have heard other pieces from him that are mesmerizing but this one lacks focus and coherency throughout.

Then you get to the second disc. This one is worth the price of admission! On this one Egberto and his son Alexandre shine like the brightest stars. Although Egberto says that the piano is his first instrument, it is with an acoustic guitar that he has made his mark on the world of music. This disc shows you why. It is filled with such riveting music that captures so many different moods with his ability to wring emotion out of the instrument. For instance the thirteen minute "Mestico & Caboclo" takes you on a whirlwind ride through so many peaks and valleys it is hard to stop listening.

The beauty of the acoustic guitar is gloriously put on display with the song "Palhaco". Here Alexandre does the solo work that is just stunning. This one has an old world charm that is as dynamic as you will ever hear. The consistency lacking in the first disc is clearly made up for here!

He then gives you some of the most breathtaking playing you are going to find. He is a master of the guitar and his abilities are displayed clearly all over this second album. "Zig Zag" is one of my favorite works on here and it is just as the name implies. Back and forth the masterful guitar work zips between your ears with a cool jazzy approach that is very cool.

This second disc is worth the price alone. I guess you could think of the first one as a bonus. If you enjoy Spanish style guitar with all the trimmings, here is a first class work that is beyond belief. If you purchase this disc for Gismonti's classical arrangement, you will be disappointed. I do give him an A for effort though, not many would attempt what he did and I hope that we get more from him in the future as we do need more musicians willing to try a classical composition.

Track listing:

1. Sertoes Veredas I
2. Sertoes Veredas II
3. Sertoes Veredas III
4. Sertoes Veredas IV
5. Sertoes Veredas V
6. Sertoes Veredas VI
7. Sertoes Veredas VII

CD2
Duetos De Violoes

1. Lundu
2. Mestico & Caboclo
3. Dois Violoes
4. Palhaco
5. Danca dos Escravos
6. Chora Antonio
7. Zig Zag
8. Carmen
9. Aguas & Danca
10. Saudacoes

Added: October 29th 2009
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Score:
Related Link: Gismonti's Myspace Page
Hits: 1129
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Gismonti, Egberto: Saudações
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-29 14:53:19
My Score:

Let's just cut to the chase-the latest effort from Brazilian musician Egberto Gismonti, titled Saudações, should have been split up into two separate CD releases. As it stands, Saudações is a 2CD set, with the first disc being a classical suite composed by Gismonti, performed by the Camerata Romeu female orchestra, and conducted by Zenaida Remeu, titled "Sertoes Veredas". This is an adventurous piece that certainly has its moments, but clocking in at over an hour, it's a tad on the long side and has problems flowing from movement to movement. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of engaging moments, because there are. There are moments throughout this epic suite where I started to remember when I first heard the classic "Peter and the Wolf" when I was a kid, but that suite works from beginning to end, and Gismonti's, though admirable and adventurous, lacks that 'soaring' quality, those stunning melodies that you expect to hear for more than a few seconds at a time, on a composition such as this.

Over onto Disc 2, you get something completely different. Here, it's Gismonti and his son Alexandre playing a series of 10 classical guitar duets, titled "Duetos de Violoes", which turns into a complete 'about face' after what you have just heard on the first disc. This is masterful material, the two Gismonti's weaving plenty of intricate guitar lines and lush melodies, taking the listener into an intoxicating dreamworld of colors, tones, and textures. If you have any interest at all in classical or acoustic guitar, you'll need to investigate this charming jazzy/folky concoction.

Egberto Gismonti's first recording for ECM in 14 years is somewhat of a frustrating release, as each CD pretty much would appeal to a totally different audience. You have to give him credit though for putting together something on such an epic scale. A very solid 4 stars for CD2, and a good 3 stars for CD1.



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