Teresa Salgueiro


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As the supremely evocative voice behind the magic of Madredeus, Teresa Salgueiro became the most internationally recognizable Portuguese artist of her generation. Distancing herself from the shadow of Madredeus was surely no easy task. In her solo first albums Salgueiro seems to have chosen a neutral compromise: she is not trying to duplicate the Madredeus sound; neither is she trying to construct an original musical identity of her own. Rather, for the time being, she appears content to be a performer of standards or traditional music. Her latest album in this vein, Matriz, is probably her most rewarding to date, since it deals with what Salgueiro knows and sings best: Portuguese music. Backed by the aptly named Lusitânia Ensemble, Salgueiro revisits seven centuries of the musical history of her country, from rural songs, courtly music, and dances to fados and present-day composers such as Carlos Paredes. The casual listener would probably find it very hard to discern any outstanding differences between pieces written hundreds of years apart, as Salgueiro and her musicians offer a strikingly consistent vision of Portuguese music through the ages, notably of its otherworldly capacity to re-create melancholy and longing in song, even in the brisker dance movements. The performances and arrangements are, almost needless to say, exquisite. The only possible regret is that Matriz sounds like a record that could have been made by any excellent Early Music ensemble, rather than the product of a unique artist -- as Madredeus' albums did. Salgueiro's best work with her former band had the uncanny ability to sound both deeply ancient and contemporary at the same time. Salgueiro has yet to achieve that sense of timelessness in her solo albums, as refined as they invariably are -- and of which Matriz is the best example.

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