With a career that spans over 50 years, and with more than 70 albums on his catalog, Egberto Gismonti continues to inspire generations of young musicians over the world as one of the most original voices in music. Gismonti’s craftsmanship as a composer and his brilliance as a performer are second to none. A composer with gifted melodic appeal, his music knows no boundaries—from the Assad Brothers, Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Vilnius and Tokyo Philharmonics to John McLaughlin, Paul Horn, Nana Vasconcelos, Airto Moreira, Jan Garbarek and Charlie Haden, only to name a few as the list is very long.
Gismonti’s recording output along with the relevance of his legacy to Brazilian music are of utmost importance and deserve to be studied thoroughly. Douglas and I have the privilege to be close friends with Egberto Gismonti whom we consider to be one of the greatest Brazilian musicians of the second half of the 20th century. His generosity and passion working with us and his valuable teachings about life and music have had a great impact on the duo’s career.
In the earliest days of the Brasil Guitar Duo the music of Egberto Gismonti was inspirational, motivating Douglas and me to become better guitar players. At the time we were 18 and 17 years old, undergraduate students under the guidance of guitar master Henrique Pinto. We did not have any aspiration of becoming a professional ensemble, but we were already trying our hands on pieces such as Frevo and Água e Vinho. Egberto Gismonti’s music has been part of the duo’s repertoire since its foundation twenty-five years ago and continues to be our “lucky charm’’.
Gismonti’s music was introduced to us by the Assad Brothers, who to this day remain as the greatest interpreters of Gismonti’s music on the guitar. Through the Assad’s recordings, classical guitarists from all over the world became acquainted with Gismonti’s vast output, which goes beyond the guitar.
Our journey working on Egberto Gismonti’s music has been very intense, and grasping his musical language was not an easy task. Throughout the years we had countless encounters with the composer, exploring arranging techniques and repertoire ideas in order to translate successfully Gismonti’s very pianistic writing into two guitars. The composer more than once emphasized the concept of music phraseology applied to the interpretation of his music as a crucial approach to be followed. That approach helped the duo’s comprehension of the rhythmic complexity as well as the polyphony, which are trademarks of Gismonti’s style.
Egberto Gismonti taught us that above all things is the respect and devotion for music. His outstanding aural skills and very high standards intimidated us at times, but it was very clear that his expectations pushed us to reach another level in our playing. Gismonti’s music is very meaningful to the duo, and performing it became our mission. As a duo we have a strong connection with Gismonti’s works, and so does our audience. After performing A Fala da Paixão we witnessed someone in the audience in tears, and that has happened more than once. Another example of Gismonti’s musical appeal is 7 Anéis, a signature piece of the Brasil Guitar Duo’s repertoire that whenever performed guarantees a standing ovation. This album dedicated to the music of Egberto Gismonti was 25 years in the making. All those years were necessary in order for the duo to feel technically and artistically prepared to take on such a challenging body of works. The arrangements were made between 1997 and 2011.
The advantage of possessing all of Gismonti’s albums, private live recordings and having the composer as a mentor makes this project stand out. With the exception of Alegrinho n.2 which is a guitar composition (first recorded by Gismonti on a soprano guitar) all the works featured on this album were arranged from its original piano versions.
Even though all of Gismonti’s music is meticulously written out, the main source for the arrangements was not the score but Gismonti’s own playing through recordings and live concerts which I transcribed by ear.
We are highly influenced by the Assad Brothers and Sérgio Assad’s masterful arranging style. However, we also contribute something new with the addition of Douglas’ 7 strings guitar which opens up more possibilities for arrangements and repertoire. In addition to that, our approach is more in line with Gismonti’s orchestral and polyphonic writing—something that other arrangements for guitar lack. The rhythmic complexity of Gismonti’s piano playing as well as his mesmerizing independence between right and left hand is kept in our versions of pieces such Frevo, 7 Anéis, Forrobodó and Sonhos de Recife.
Gismonti’s songwriter side is also featured on this album with our arrangements of Don Quixote and the beautiful Bodas de prata & Quatro Cantos. We opted to connect Bodas de Prata to Sonhos de Recife without interruption inspired by Gismonti’s own way of performing works that share some degree of similarity, which is the case of these two compositions.
This recording represents one of Brasil Guitar Duo’s greatest achievements, which was only possible thanks to the enthusiasm and unconditional support of Egberto Gismonti, to whom this album is dedicated.
Brooklyn, NY February, 2022
Created by: GuitarCoop
Recorded at: Fazenda Boa Vista
Date: July, 2018
Booklet Texts: João Luiz
Translation: João Luiz
Arrangements: João Luiz
Musical producer: Guilherme Oliveira
Editing: Ricardo Marui / Guilherme Oliveira
Audio Engineer: Ricardo Marui
Mixing: Nobert Kraft
Mastering: Ricardo Marui
Graphic Design | Web: Eduardo Sardinha
Publishing: Patricia Millan
Photos: Dario Acosta
Guitar and strings:
– João Luiz – Sérgio Abreu 2017 with Augustine Regal Blue strings
– Douglas Lora – Sérgio Abreu 2009 with Augustine Paragon
Microphones: DPA 2006, Royer SF 24, Neumann KM 184
Converter: Metric Halo LIO-8
Preamp: Millennia HV3-D
We thank Egberto Gismonti, our family and friends, Norbert Kraft, Marcelo Kayath and the entire GuitarCoop team.