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Dyens to release Pixinguinha CD, sheet music

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I was lucky enough to be sitting about 4 feet away from maestro Dyens at a concert he gave at Trilogy Guitars, here in the Los Angeles area, last night. The performance primarily featured music of Pixinguinha and Villa-Lobos with a couple of Brazilian influenced original compositions mixed in. Spectacular!

I bought the new CD of Pixinguinha music last night and have listened twice thus far. I HIGHLY recommend it to all!

--Frank

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I finally bought the CD after giving up waiting for sample tracks at Amazon and other sites. While I'm a big fan of both Roland Dyens and Pixinguinha, I found the arrangements strangely flat and uninspiring, especially compared to Baden Powell's interpretations. Maybe Dyens' treatments were a bit too Europeanized for my taste.

Just one person's opinion...

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Richard, I still didn't buy my copy of Dyens' CD, but I'm even more intrigued and curious now after your not-so-positive comments.

Pixinguinha is a tough composer to be transcribed for the guitar, and I can think of very few people (like Raphael Rabello and Marcello Gonçalves) to have succeeded in doing arrangements with absolute perfection (BTW, Pixinguinha lovers should listen to Marcello Gonçalves and Henrique Cazes CD "Pixinguinha de Bolso").

Carlos Barbosa-Lima made some great arrangements for some of Pixinguinha's pieces, but despite his impressive virtuosity, sometimes the arrangements sound a bit overworked. This is his rendition of 1x0, a very hard and fast-paced piece:

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And here goes an interesting review written by Brad Conroy about the CD.

http://guitarinternational.com/wpmu/2009/10/18/dyens

Roland Dyens: Naquele Tempo CD Review

Published: October 18, 2009

By: Brad Conroy

Naquele Tempo is Roland Dyens' incredible collection of solo classical guitar arrangements of works written by the Brazilian composer, Alfredo da Rocha Viana, Jr.(1897-1973), better known as Pixinguinha (pronounced, Pish-in-GUI-nia). Pixinguinha's music was originally written for small jazz ensembles and is characteristically expressive, innovative, and rich with melody and complex harmonies. His pieces have an improvisational feeling to them and contain all the elements representative of an expert composer.

Dyens' arrangements incorporate his trademark touches such as string slaps, percussive tapping on the body of the guitar and playing behind the nut. These added effects bring forth the deepest nuances of each piece and help create the illusion that this music was originally written for the guitar. Dyens performs Pixinguinha's music without losing any of its beauty or brilliance, and manages to do so with clean execution, balance, expression, and grace.

Pixinguinha is an icon of Brazilian music and is often considered "the father of the Choro." He was a virtuoso instrumentalist, composer, arranger, band leader, teacher, and even became the musical ambassador for Brazil at one point in his career. He dedicated his life to the popular music of Brazil, particularly the Choro, which in Portuguese means "a cry". Pixinguinha possessed virtuosic technique on the instruments he played, the flute and tenor saxophone, which is apparent in his use of dazzling scales and arpeggios throughout his compositions. He possessed an incredible melodic gift and his music mixes the rhythms of his Portuguese and African roots with improvisation, tying it all together with his understanding of European trends in harmony and instrumentation.

"Proezas de Solon," the CD's opener, is a very attractive and playful piece and a perfect depiction of the Brazilian Choro with its upbeat tempo, catchy melody, and rondo type form. Dyens performs the piece with technical precision and grace, portraying the sense that he is deeply passionate about this music. In the liner notes Dyens alludes to the fact that he was born listening to this music and secretly studied it alongside his classical studies as a young guitarist in Paris. His passion for this music shines through in his detailed arrangements and passionate performances.

The tunes "Rosa" and "Carinhoso" demonstrate the slower and more contemplative side of the Choro. "Rosa" begins with a statement of the melody that is perfectly executed in harmonics. Dyens maintains a soft, mellow, and clear tone throughout the piece, capturing the mood and conjuring up images of a beautiful love song, culminating in a very expressive performance.

"Carinhoso" (affection), which was originally recorded in 1928, is an incredible example of Pixinguinha's development of the Choro. He strays from the three part rondo form and introduces a more simple structure. Even though the structure is simplified, the melody is very seductive and the harmonic progression of "Carinhoso" is quiet advanced.

"Gargalhada" opens with the sounds of a snare drum, which Dyens produces on his guitar by twisting the fifth and sixth strings together, then striking them to achieve a metal on metal type sound. "Gargalhada" means "laughter," and this piece conjures up the image of a street festival or fanfare. It has an upbeat tempo and is filled with virtuosic scale lines, which Dyens executes with the utmost precision. The counterpoint harmony makes it slightly reminiscent of a Scarlatti keyboard sonata and is an example of the depths and diversity of Pixinguinha's compositional style.

Naquele Tempo is a tribute to Pixinguinha the great Brazilian master composer, and Dyens has done a brilliant job arranging his music for solo guitar. Pixinguinha's music is wonderfully written and draws upon many diverse elements; melodic development, lush harmonies, improvisation, counterpoint, the sounds of a Brazilian street fair and a 1920's dance hall music, to name a few. Dyens has put his heart and soul into this project, which breathes through in the expressive performances and the detailed arrangements he has worked out. This music will excite a wide range of audiences and the arrangements will no doubt find their way into the core repertoire of the modern classical guitarist.

Track Listing

1-Proezas de Solon

2-Desprezado

3-Rosa

4-Atencioso

5-Ingenuo

6-Gargalhada

7-Oscarina

8-Lamentos

9-Naquele Tempo

10-Carinhoso

11-Um a zero

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I finally got my CD and I've been listening to it for the last couple of days. I'll try to write down my impressions so far.

===

Roland Dyens is a unique guitarist in the sense that he commands styles such as classical, Brazilian and Jazz with equal proficiency. For anyone expecting the punch and vibration that's so typical of Brazilian music, his latest CD may be be a little disappointing and perhaps "Pixinguinha de Bolso", by Cazes/Gonçalves will sound way more appealing. However, for classical guitarists looking for fresh pieces in the Brazilian flavor, this CD is quite a treasure chest.

In general, Roland Dyens shows a lot of sensitivity in the waltzes and fires up in the more demanding pieces. He chose some well-known pieces and mixed them up with less known compositions. The use of counterpoints inherits more from the classical tradition than from Choro itself. His arrangements flow in a very natural way, I'd even say that they sound more natural than Carlos Barbosa-Lima's in a lot of ways.

The CD starts with "Proezas de Solon", a typical traditional 2/4 Choro and then moves to "Desprezado", also traditional, but a bit more slow paced. The third arrangement is "Rosa", a waltz, where Dyens uses an alternate tuning with a low B and explores harmonics all over the piece. In my opinion, this is one the best arrangements I've heard for this very piece. Really smart, well thought, touching, full of heart.

"Atencioso" is the 4th track, it's a short piece that sounds very challenging, full of counterpoints and with a playful and happy melody that became one of Pixinguinha's most distinct and recognizable features as a composer and player. The 5th track is "Ingenuo", a contemplative Choro arranged in a more classical way, with an introduction that uses harmonics and develops the melody in the basses. The arrangement tries to keep the counterpoints going and at some point adds some elements of Tango to it.

"Gargalhada" comes next and it's one piece that starts with some guitar effects that emulate martial drums. The melody is fast paced, full of sudden stops and requires a lot of virtuosity to be played.

"Oscarina", the 7th track, is another waltz, one piece where Dyens keeps the traditional mood and style, but at the same time tries a more dissonant approach to the harmony and adds a tremolo at one point.

"Lamentos" is a very popular piece by Pixinguinha, having been arranged for the guitar by heroes like Raphael Rabello and Marco Pereira. Roland tries a lighter approach on this one, avoids displays of virtuosity, focuses on the counterpoints and again uses a low B on the 6th string.

Naquele Tempo is a one-tempo, full featured Choro that contradictorily starts with a flexible tempo and only a bare naked melody, no counterpoints or chords for about 40 seconds, when it finally takes full shape. In this very piece, he plays a lot of chords not by pulling the strings, but rather strumming them.

A few years ago, "Carinhoso" was considered to be the #1 Brazilian song ever written, defeating "Garota de Ipanema". It's a 4/4 Choro written in the 1930's that then had lyrics added and became a bit hit since then, having been recorded and rearranged hundreds of times. With such a history, it's almost intimidating for any musician to try something original, and here we can listen to Roland giving his shot.

The last piece is a well-know, fast-paced, finger-breaking Choro written by Pixinguinha inspired by a Brazilian soccer player in the early 1900's. "Um a Zero", or "1x0", tries to pay homage to the way the player would dribble the adversary team. The result sounds great, virtuoso, but not desperate to show skills.

This review, of course, is just my opinion and I don't intend to sound authoritative. My only recommendation: listen to it! :)

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