JULY 2019 | Raízes : A Piano in the Amazon | Carla Ruaro

JULY 2019 | Raízes : A Piano in the Amazon | Carla Ruaro


Carla Ruaro has been actively promoting Brazilian music around the world over the last decade with a series of innovative concerts which frequently utilise percussive or recorded sources to enhance the atmosphere. The springboard for her current venture occurred in 2012, when she was awarded the Funarte Prize for her project "Multiplying Brazilian Music in the Amazon”. This lead directly to ‘Raízes - Um Piano na Amazônia’ (Roots - a Piano in the Amazon), an artistic, pedagogic and social project to bring the piano to the riverside communities of the Amazon. The fruit of her 2017 venture is the release of her debut CD, Raízes with accompanying documentary film on DVD, which was launched in October 2018 as part of our Echoes Festival.

Whilst I believe one should judge the music as it stands, in this case the DVD for Raízes provides a valuable context as you witness first hand how Carla Ruaro and her colleagues plan and undertake their venture, not least the sourcing and hoisting a piano onto a boat. The film, covering the 40 day expedition is very enjoyable in its own right and acts as an effective curtain raiser for the music that is included on the CD. The reaction from the village communities, particularly from the children, to an instrument they had never seen before is of genuine delight and the results are fascinating. The DVD is accompanied by a well illustrated booklet. It is apparent that this voyage was not a means to an end a stepping stone in a continuing and worthwhile project.

The programme of music on the CD is not a soundtrack to the film but rather an evocation of Amazonia, which features some delightful new music from contemporary Brazilian composers, many with a local connection. Carla Ruaro also draws on contributions from Gustavo Roriz and Tatiana Cobbett. At the heart of the album we have three short suites: Bachianas Amazonicas (Wilson Fonseca), Suite Waldemar (Luis Pardal) and Suite Amazonica No.1 (Altino Pimenta) with additional contributions from Thiago Albuquerque, Albery Albuquerque, Lúcia Uchôa and Tatiana Cobbett.

The music is unfailingly melodic and attractive throughout, played with complete understanding and subtlety by Ms Ruaro. Her understated approach allows the music to breath and speak for itself so it all feels very natural and the music flows (pun intended) very well from piece to piece.

I was taken with the very different styles of writing. Luiz Pardal’s interest in jazz and choro makes for some very characteristic pieces which includes complimentary accompaniment from Gustavo Roriz’s guitars abetted by atmospheric sounds which work really well with the attractive piano part. Wilson Fonseca conjures up the spirit of Nazareth, which is wholly delightful. Altino Pimenta’s suite is quite memorable, with some evocations of the music of that great Brazilian musical innovator Villa-Lobos, edged with atmospheric natural and percussive sounds.

Although the booklet doesn’t tell you, the first two tracks by Thiago and Albery Albuquerque incorporate their innovation which is a new musical language that is based on the sound universe of animals; so we get a clever distillation of the vocalisations of animals set against the piano part. Another point of interest is Lúcia Uchôa’s Respingos (Splashes), with a very clever interaction between the sound of water and a cascading piano sound. The final track is a popular-sounding song about the boat itself, Jorge Olinto, given a rousing rendition by the composer Tatiana Cobbett.

Raízes is a very enjoyable album and having now lived with it for over 6 months I find myself returning to it regularly. The artistic balance that Carlos Ruaro has struck is very good and the atmospheric sounds she uses are not arbitrary. It is a very enterprising release with an attractive presentation for the CD and DVD package. The recorded sound is excellent too and enhances what is a warmly recommendable album. For more information on the project check out the artist’s website:  carlaruaro.com  At present the deluxe edition can be purchased through the following link: ebay.co.uk/itm/173773206381





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