The fabulous Corrêas
Trio Esperança is back with De Bach à Jobim.
1 June 2010
Back in the prehistoric days of the mid-1990s, when you still had to visit a record store in order to acquire music, every significant discovery prompted intense excitement of the kind that has become so rare now, subjected as we are to a daily avalanche of digital media whether we want it or not.
In December 1996, while browsing at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, I came upon a CD with three young women on the cover, a mouth-watering repertoire, and a stellar guest list. It was Trio Esperanças A Capela do Brasil (Philips 314 512 266-2), released in 1992.
At that time I was hunting down every available recording of Aquarela do Brasil for a discography I was planning to compile. As its title made clear, A Capela do Brasil contained what I was looking for.
I bought and was hooked. Here are excerpts from my fresh reactions, posted to a Brazilian music listserv two days after I bought the disc:
Its fabulous. One of those all-too-rare albums where every single track is the cats meow. All 18 songs are simply wonderful, and Mariza, Eva, and Regina make them even better with their impeccable phrasing and perfect harmonizing.
Among the songs are two lovely nostalgic paens to growing up in the 60s (Casaco Marrom and Rua Ramalhete). There are excellent and fresh covers of the ultimate chestnut, O Pato, and of the even more heavily trodden Corcovado. Theres a beautiful Qualquer Coisa with Caetano Veloso, where the trio out-caetanears the original. Theres a great Aquele Um with Djavan that demonstrates how good a songwriter he is. And a charming little Japanese ditty called Watashi (they do the accent just right) with a nice samba beat.
Theres also João Boscos Coisa Feita with his guitar and vocal. Again, the girls can scat just as well as hein fact, they put his voice to shame. The princesa do Dahomé line in this song is so evocative, and those three quintessentially Brazilian female voices are the ideal vehicle for it. [...] Ive been listening to this album non-stop, and it only gets better.
A Capela do Brasil was released in France, where the three Corrêa sistersEva, Regina, and Marizawere living and enjoying great success. By the time I had discovered A Capela, their followup CD, Segundo (Philips 526577-2; 1995), had already been out for a year. Their third French album, Nosso Mundo (Universal 546 030-2; 1999) departed from the MPB mold, concentrating on standards from countries as far-flung as Senegal, Japan, Italy and Mexico.
Then the sisters stopped recording and returned to Brazil for half a dozen years. Luckily for us, theyre back in France, with a new album devoted to classics old and new, roaming from Bach to the Beatles.
While the concept isnt startlingly original, the execution is unique enough to merit attention. The two Bach compositions (the Aria from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, and the Chorale from Cantata BWV 147) are among the most frequently adapted for pop interpretations, but here they are sung in Portuguese and given uncommon arrangements.
The Aria (the famous Air on the G String) has been transformed into Caminho da Razão, with lyrics by Eva Corrêa (unfortunately, the liner notes include no lyrics). In an arrangement by Gérard Gambus, the voices, first a cappella, then accompanied by guitar and strings, inject a pop note while the strings keep to a rigorous classical basis.
The Chorale (better known as Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring) received lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, who turned it into Rancho das Flores, an ode to flowers, bearing an allusion to the old ranchos carnavalescos, which adopted floral names (e.g., Flor do Abacate, Recreio das Flores, Flor da Lira, Rosa de Ouro, Ameno Resedá, etc.) as vestiges of their African ancestors totemic traditions. Trio Esperança removed some of Vinicius lyrics and rearranged others, concentrating on a single flower. The voicesthis time an accordion augments the guitar and stringssing not only the well-known melody but also the organ refrain.
In a nod to Brazils serious composers, the trio performs Ernesto Nazareths best-known tango, Odeon, and a folk song quoted by Villa-Lobos as the third movementÁria (Cantiga)in Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4.
Odeon received several sets of lyrics after Nazareths death, and the nostalgic verses sung by the trio are the creation of Vinicius de Moraes, although the liner notes ascribe them to Ubaldo Sciangula Mangione, who happens to be the president of the music publishing firm Mangione, Filhos & Cia Ltda. (more on that in a separate article). Nazareth composed the tune for piano, but Vinicius lyrics describe the classic choro format of flauta, cavaquinho e violão, and the sisters voices execute the harmonies that the three instruments would produce in a traditional choro.
Another confusion as to authorship plagues the Cantiga. Brazils copyright law confers copyright protection on adaptations of public-domain themes. Thus a traditional nordestino folk song called Ó mana, deixa eu ir now bears the names of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Teca Calazans, and Milton Nascimento. Trio Esperanças own adaptation is quite original, and one assumes that only the Corrêas modesty prevented them from registering yet another cumulative copyright upon this innocent folk song. The sisters interpretation is spare and heart rending, expressing all the longing implied in the lyrics.
Longing of a different sort can be found in the two Lennon/McCartney songs. Penny Lane, in an uncredited Portuguese version by Guttenberg Guarabyra, is a close kin of the trios 1991 recording of Rua Ramalhete in its ability to evoke nostalgic feelings for the neighborhood of ones youth. The interesting arrangement for strings is original, referring only obliquely to George Martins work for the Beatles. Blackbird, sung a cappella in English, is a creatively fresh departure from the predictable cover and stands out as one of the better interpretations of this standard.
No Brazilian classics album would be complete without a tune by Tom Jobim, and here we have two: Desafinado and Samba do Avião. To the trios credit, theres not a hint of warhorse in their delightful renditions, and thats saying a lot.
Two distinguished songwriters of the post-Jobim generation, Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque, are represented with a song each. The percussive a cappella rendition of Upa Neguinho is one of the best Ive heard. The same goes for their version of the mock-chanson Joana Francesa, which strikes the ideal balance between two cultures.
The album ends with a double track: Renato Teixeiras 1978 caipira song Romaria, included in so many Elis Regina compilations, receives as an unannounced bonus Luiz Carlos Sás Zepelin, which a previous formation of Trio Esperança recorded in 1974. In this new recording, the sisters reunite with their brother Mario, who sings the lead vocals.
Trio Esperança reminds us that theres always new gold to be mined from familiar material. All one has to do is perfect ones artistic skills over fifty years.
Trio Esperança: De Bach à Jobim
(Disques Dreyfus; 2010) 40:36 min.
Arrangements by Gérard Gambus
01. Caminho da Razão (Johann Sebastian Bach/Eva Corrêa)
02. Upa Neguinho (Edu Lobo/Gianfrancesco Guarnieri)
03. Desafinado (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonça)
04. A Rosa [Rancho das Flores] (J.S. Bach/Vinicius de Moraes)
05. Penny Lane (John Lennon/Paul McCartney/Portuguese vers. Guttenberg Guarabyra)
06. Blackbird (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
07. Samba do Avião (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
08. Cantiga [Caicó] (Traditional/adap. Villa-Lobos, Teca Calazans, Milton Nascimento)
09. Odeon (Ernesto Nazareth/Vinicius de Moraes)
10. Joana Francesa (Chico Buarque)
11. Uma Gota do Mar (Roberto Corrêa Filho/Carlos Colla)
12. Romaria (Renato Teixeira); Zepelin (Luiz Carlos Sá)
Marcio Faraco, guitar
Silvano Michelino & Inor Sotolongo, percussions
Marc Barthoumieux, accordion
Gérard Gambus, piano
Budapest Symphonic Orchestra, strings
Copyright © 2010 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.