In late November, Tracy (Tracy Richardson, harpsichordist) and I spent two weeks in Rio de Janeiro with her fellow Mélomanie ensemble members. The baroque/modern ensemble was in Brazil for the annual new music festival “Compositores de Hoje” to premier recent works for baroque instruments. The concert was held in the Centro Cultural Justiça Federal, a dignified, ornate space that served as the hall of Brazil’s supreme court when Rio was Brazil’s capital. Playing in this elegant room with a warm acoustic, Mélomanie gave a passionate and polished performance of pieces they had commissioned to a full house, ending with a standing ovation, and finally a localized encore, the popular song by Dominguinhos, Eu só quero um Xodó (I just want a sweetheart), arranged for them by Sergio Roberto de Oliveira.
The program included the Brazilian premiere of my Trois Rivières for baroque period instruments—two flutes, violin, viola da gamba, cello, and harpsichord. Rio’s master of the baroque flute, Laura Rónai, joined the ensemble on the second flute part. Trois Rivières consists of three linked chaconnes—the three “rivers” of the title—and was written to introduce a new Parisian-style late-baroque harpsichord. They’ve played the piece many times, always beautifully, but never better than on this occasion. The group also gave the Brazilian premiers of the excellent music of Roberto Pace, Jennifer Margaret Barker, Ingrid Arauco, Kyle Smith, and Rio’s own Sergio Roberto de Oliveira.
Part of the stay was spent working with Sergio on the sound for our upcoming joint CD, Pares / Pairs. A great week. I was able to assist the ensemble—just serving as an extra pair of ears—work with my great friend Sergio, and spend time both with the ensemble and with friends in Rio. Tracy and I thought we’d have a long walk on the beach every day, but that happened exactly once in our two-week stay. We had too much going on. Next time. The hope is that “next time” will be for the release of Pares / Pairs this spring.