This year marks the 200th anniversary of the proclamation of Brazil’s independence by Dom Pedro I in September 1822. It also marks the fourth year of Naxos' collaboration with Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to disseminate recordings of little-known music by Brazilian composers, many of them in world premiere performances. Featuring some 100 orchestral, chamber, choral and vocal works from the 19th and 20th centuries, these notable releases continue to augment Naxos' Brazilian music catalogue, which includes albums from other labels within the Naxos Music Group, not least from ARC, the original world music label!
September sees the release of two more new albums in this 'Music of Brazil' series. The first is a programme of choral/orchestral works by Brazil's founding father Dom Pedro I himself. The second is a mixed programme of works for chamber orchestra by four composers: Carlos Gomes (1836–1896), Alberto Nepomuceno (1836–1896), Leopoldo Miguéz (1850–1902) and Francisco Braga (1868–1945).
Dom Pedro I was the first Emperor of Brazil, proclaiming its independence from Portugal in 1822. A gifted musician, Pedro I is one of only a few monarchs to have become known as a composer. A performance of his Abertura (Overture) was organised in Paris in 1832 with some in the audience convinced that it had been composed by Rossini, while the Hino da Independência do Brasil (Hymn to the Independence of Brazil) remains one of the country’s best-loved anthems. Operatic in character, the Te Deum celebrated the baptism of Pedro’s first son, and the joyous Credo is one of his most frequently performed works.
Brazilian composers in the 19th century often sought state scholarships to enable them to study in Europe where they were to become influenced by the German, Italian and French compositional schools. They also became involved in the vogue for writing suites based on ancient dances, such as Nepomuceno’s delightful Ancient Suite, premiered at Grieg’s home, or Braga’s Madrigal-Pavana which evokes the belle époque ballrooms of Rio de Janeiro. Miguéz’s Suite in the Old Style is polyphonic and lively, while Gomes’ Sonata for Strings is his finest non-operatic work.