Classics Today 10/10, Disc of the Month; Fono Forum: Stern des Monats.
The colourful and evocative works of Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone (1897-1986) provides many interesting insights into the cultural currents in Brazil during the 20th century. The son of Italian immigrants and raised in a musical environment dominated by Italian influences, Mignone also studied in Milan, and his first works were conducted by European ‘icons’ such as Respighi (a source of inspiration) and Richard Strauss. But the Italian traits in his early production was condemned by the author and important cultural theoretician Mario de Andrade, who convinced Mignone of the need for the arts to contribute to the building of a national identity – brasilidade. The composer, who had already shown an interest in the musical traditions of the former slaves in Brazil, thus began to write music in a ‘nationalistic’ vein. The ballet Maracatu de Chico Rei, written in 1933 in collaboration with Andrade, might be considered the first of these works. But soon Andrade was thinking that Mignone placed too much emphasis on the African heritage, and the composer again ‘repented’. Though 18 years apart, Festa das Igrejas (a suite of symphonic portraits of four Brazilian churches which some regard as Mignone’s finest work) and Sinfonia Tropical (imbued with the spirit of the north-east of Brazil and containing certain Amazonian sonorities) are both from a sort of ‘middle period’ in the composer’s development. In fact it was just a couple of years after the composition (in 1958) of the later piece, that Mignone began exploring new roads of atonality, polytonality and serialism, returning to his Brazilian roots in the 1970s. But to the composer himself, these various paths were all one, for as he himself said: ‘Everything can be realized in art, provided that the work brings a message of beauty and makes the listener wish to listen to the music many times.’ The present disc contains many such ‘messages of beauty’, and what’s more: the entertainment value is certainly high enough to merit repeated hearings!
Some press voices:
"You're going to love this fabulous new disc … offering the most vibrant, colorful, rhythmically vital and virtuosic performances imaginable … supported at every point by state-of-the-art engineering." Classics Today.com
“Un plaisir immense. Un très grand disque spectaculaire et exaltant, servi par des interprètes exemplaires.” Classics Today France.com