In 1959, three years after the start of the partnership between Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes that would revolutionize Brazilian popular music, the duo had 13 of their songs recorded through Irineu Garcia's label, Festa, by Lenita Bruno in Por Toda a Minha Vida, with orchestrations by her husband, the conductor Leo Peracchi. This was chamber music, essentially, that challenged the usual classifications of classical/popular character; the songs, all of them, turned out to be fundamental classics of Brazilian music. The arrangements became important references in the process of modernization of the orchestration of Brazilian popular music, but the conductor, who realized important works both in classical and popular music, died in obscurity. This project seeks to recover the memory of the arranger and to put his work in perspective for its influence on modern music. While the merit of the claim of producer Eduardo Gudin -- that the arrangements for this album changed Jobim's way of arranging, also influencing Klaus Ogerman and all Brazilian music ever since -- must be justified through careful and dispassionate musicological research, this doesn't undermine the integrity of this splendid work and of this well-deserved tribute. It seems that Gudin, out of passion, forgot to examine Canção do Amor Demais, which is from the previous year. It presented six of the songs included in the album at hand ("Serenata do Adeus," "As Praias Desertas," "Eu Não Existo Sem Você," "Estrada Branca," "Modinha," and "Canção do Amor Demais"), and the similarity between their arrangements is striking, especially the literal use of counterpoints and intros, eventually with the orchestration changed. The major difference between the two would be Jobim's economic use of orchestra and strings, his preference for a more rhythmical approach, and the use of the violão (guitar). While it is also possible to see Jobim and Peracchi in a tradition that descends directly from Heitor Villa-Lobos' conception of Brazilianness (even if, in Jobim's case, always through an internal struggle in favor of the constructivistic, economical, concrete aspects brought into Brazilian art in the '50s, of which bossa nova is representative in the field of music), this doesn't threaten the haunting, mysterious feel of the intriguing orchestrations and their intrinsic beauty. Unjustly forgotten for so many years, these original arrangements were provided by the maestro's daughter, Myriam Peracchi (who sings on two of the album's tracks), who handed them to Gudin (also a former pupil of Peracchi's). The reinterpretation was realized in a gala night in São Paulo at the SESC Pompéia Hall, and the show was recorded live and presented on this album. The orchestra was the Jazz Sinfônica, and several of the most important singers active in São Paulo were called to deliver the songs: Céline Imbert (the only lyrical singer), Vânia Bastos, Mônica Salmaso, Ná Ozzetti, Jane Duboc, and Tetê Espíndola. Each one infuses these pearls with her own distinctive, superb interpretation, always avoiding with intelligence old romantic clichés with the wonderful timbres of Vânia Bastos, Ná Ozzetti, and -- perhaps the most appropriate choice, due to her liquid singing and always-experimental approach that is so well suited to these challenging arrangements -- Tetê Espíndola (most obvious in one of the orchestral interludes of "Cai a Tarde").
AllMusic Review by Alvaro Neder