Friday 16 October 2015

Alvorada! - the cello goes Latin American

Ophelie Gaillard - Alvorada
Alvorada!; Ophelie Gaillard; Aparte
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Oct 10 2015
Star rating: 4.0

French cellist Ophelie Gaillard travels to Latin America with enchanting results

This new disc from cellist Ophelie Gaillard is something of a departure from a cellist who is well known for her performances in the baroque and classical repertoire. On the Aparte label (distributed by Harmonia Mundi) she joins with a variety of musicians to perform a wide variety of Spanish and Latin American music under the title Alvorada. With music by de Falla, Granados, Piazzolla, Villa Lobos, and Cassado, the music explores the more popular, dance elements in music. In an interview (see my article), Gaillard made it clear that she was not interested in doing a cross-over disc; used to doing her own research, here she works with some major figures in Latin American music.

The opening item brings a strong sense of the bright colour and rhythms of the performances. Two items from Manuel de Falla's Siete canciones populares espanolas, combined Gaillard's lovely lyrical cello with guitar and a highly prominent castanet part. And this is true of Granados' Intermezzo from Goyescas.

Having introduced us to Spanish music, from then on the programme migrates to Latin America with an extended exploration of the varieties of music on offer.  In Cobian and Cadimaco's Nieblas del riachuelo we have a rather smoky jazz-ish sound with the bandoneon rather taking us to Paris. The title track Alvorada introduces us to the singer Toquinho and his smoky vocals combine well with Gaillard's cello in a samba. In items like Simons' El Manisero it is clear that everyone is having fun as well as making good music.  There is an extended sequence of music by Astor Piazzolla, which brings out the variety of his style from lyrical yearning to up-tempo, hard-edged tango nuevo. The first disc finishes with another song, Nostalgias with some sexy smoky vocals from Sandra Rumolino.

On the second disc we move through Lipesker's colourful waltz, Romantica, the rhythmic tango of Gobbi's A Orlando Goni and we get Toquinho singing in his own catchy song Tarde em Itapua, and the lively popular sounding Wave by Jobin. A sequence of music by Villa Lobos includes the beautifully lyrical O canto do ciscne negro and El cant dels ocells. Of course there is the Cantilena from Bachiana Brasileira No. 5 recorded with a group of Gaillard's pupils but it seems a shame that we did not get the whole work. The disc ends with a suite for solo cello by Gaspar Cassado, a pupil of Casals,  which combines a sense of rhapsody with robust dance.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this disc, it really does feel like an exploration and is entirely lacking in that embarrassing sense which you can often get when classical musicians perform popular music. It helps that Ophelie Gaillard has surrounded herself with some very fine musicians indeed.

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) - Siete canciones populares españolas (Jota, Nana)
Enrique Granados (1867-1916) - Intermezzo (Goyescas)
Juan Carlos Cobián (1896-1953) & Enrique Domingo Cadimaco (1900-1999) - Nieblas del riachuelo
Carlos Cachaça (1902-1999) & Cartola (1908-1980)- Alvorada
Moisés Simons (1889-1945) - El Manisero
Isolina Carillo (1907-1996) - Dos Gardenias
José Dames (1907-1994) & Horacio Basterra (1914-1957)- Nada
Egberto Gismonti (1947-) & Geraldo Carneiro (1952-) - Água e Vinho
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)- Escualo, Oblivion
Astor Piazzolla - Grand Tango
Juan Carlos Cobián & Enrique Domingo Cadimaco - Nostalgias
Julián Plaza (1928-2003) - Payadora
Félix Lipesker (1913-1970) - Romántica
Alfredo Gobbi (1912-1965) - A Orlando Goñi
Toquinho (1946-) & Vinicius de Moraes (1913-1980) - Tarde em Itapuã
Tom Jobim (1927-1994) - Wave
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) - O canto do ciscne negro
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), Ruth Valadares Corrêa - Bachiana Brasileira No. 5 (Cantilena)
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) - El cant dels ocells
Gaspar Cassadó (1897-1966) Suite pour violoncelle seul

Ophélie Gaillard, cello
Sabine Devieilhe, soprano
Toquinho, vocals
Sandra Rumolino, vocals
Cyril Garac, violin
Juanjo Mosalini, bandonéon
Romain Lecuyerr, bass
Luiz de Aquino, Rudi Flores, Emmanuel Rossfelder, guitar
Sandrine Chatron, harp
Nicolas Genest, trompet
Fabien Cyprien, trombone
David Chupete, Florent Jodelet, Rubens Celso Lopes, Christian Paoli, percussion
Gerardo Di Giusto, Gabriel Sivak, Fernando Maguna, piano
Simao Alcoforado Barreira, Ana Catarina Braga, Anne-Charlotte Dupas, Clémence Issartel, Esther Lefebvre, Hugo Paiva, Laure Zaugg, cello
Gabriel Sivak, arrangements
Recorded September 2014 in Paris
APARTE AP104 2 CD's [58.10, 52.14]
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