Orquestra Popular de Camara

Orquestra Popular de Camara

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From Brazil comes this marvelous new ensemble, a collective of 13 Brazilian pros (plus guest percussionist Nana Vasconcelos) who are encouraging each other to run free of boundaries and create different blends of sonorities. On its first try, the Orquestra has come up with something fresh, intensely musical, and yet inimitably Brazilian in feel and mood. The opening track, a suite under the name "Bayat," is an extraordinary piece of work, transforming a song from Turkmenistan into a wonderland of sound and detail. Opening with a vocalese sung by Monica Salmaso, the group goes into a two-chord vamp, instantly establishing the mood with bandolim, accordion, flute, cello, and percussion, creating a unique profile. "Choro Moreno" offers a dark, inward-looking sound, with voice, the bass end of the piano, and cello establishing a warm, woodsy base onto which the flutes offer a contemplative top layer. "Gaúcho - Corta Jaca" runs with a tune that resembles the one that Darius Milhaud adapted in "Le Boeuf sur le Toit" some 80 years before. Pianist Benjamin Taubkin and flutist/saxophonist Mane Silveira are responsible for most of the arrangements (bandolim player Ronem Altman contributes "Parafuso") -- and it is Taubkin who proves to be the most ambitious writer. Besides "Bayat," he also created the other lengthy piece on the CD, "Suite Para Pular Cama," which opens with a gorgeously quiet meditation for cello, piano, and exotic percussion and eventually gets moving and shaking in various grooves from the interior regions of the country. Everything is impeccably performed but never sterile or routine in execution; you get the sense that they are making the same discoveries that listeners will when they hear this.

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