Cristina Azuma, the first woman guitarist to join the GSP label roster, is distinguished not only by her sensitive, technically startling musicianship, but by her bold choices, and her commitment to expanding the repertoire for guitar.
Produced by Paulo Belinati and Dean Kamei, Contatos presents a beautiful program which often emphasizes complex rhythms, and a variety of world traditions, including the Brazilian.
The concept for "Contatos" program was born when I was impressed by some similarities between northeastern Brazilian music and the music of eastern Europe. Most noticeably, the two traditions shared the strong presence of rhythm (despite very different time signatures) and a certain modal character. Madureira's pieces are very representative of northeast Brazilian music, while Rougier uses mixed measures with odd numbers of beats to render his guitar versions of Bulgarian, Romanian, and Greek themes.
Bela Bartok in Hungary, Leo Brouwer in Cuba, and Octave Agobert in France did not limit themselves to their own cultural idioms. All thee were influenced by the old sounds of eastern Europe, although in the music included here a variety of other traditions are touched upon as well. Brouwer bases his last "Apunte" upon a Bulgarian theme, and opens his first with a Manuel de Falla quote.
Completing this somewhat European excursion (from Spain to Bulgaria), are two pieces by Italian com poser Nuccio D'Angelo—musical abstractions that answer to my miniature for lute, "A Toy."
For "Contatos," I have recorded in th studio for the first time, Rougier's and Agobert's original pieces, and their transcription for guitar of the "2 Mikrokosmos." I also have the great pleasure of premiering in its entirety Paulo Bellinati's "Suite Contatos," which illustrates another use of folk elements, this time in a modern Brazilian composition.
"Contatos," Portuguese for contact, suggests exchange and reciprocity. Given that I was exploring connections, between cultures and times, it seemed natural to let Paulo's title grace this collection.
produced by Paulo Bellinati & Dean Kamei
recorded by Teja Bell at Samurai Sound (Petaluma, California)
mixed by John Strother (assisted by Rose Landauer) at Penguin Recording (Eagle Rock, California)
mastered by Dave Schultz at Digiprep (Hollywood, California)
photo by Kim Stringfellow
graphics by GSP
special thanks to Paulo Bellinati, Wagner Amorosino, and Dean Kamei. Thanks also go Geof Lipman for the use of his 1977 Herbert Hendrickson lut
Another Cristina Azuma GSP Solo Guitar recording is "Dreams" GSP1033
- Additional Information
Maker / Manufacturer AZUMA, CRISTINA Availability N/A Track 1 Suite Contatos - 1) Cadencia (P. Bellinati) Track 2 Suite Contatos - 2) Contatos (P. Bellinati) Track 3 Suite Contatos - 3) Alba (P. Bellinati) Track 4 Suite Contatos - 4) Pau de Chuva (P. Bellinati) Track 5 Suite Contatos - 5) Les Jambes (P. Bellinati) Track 6 A Toy (C. Azuma) Track 7 Ponteado (A. Madureira) Track 8 Romancario (A. Madureira) Track 9 Maracatu (A. Madureira) Track 10 3 Byzantines - 1) Bulgarie (T. Rougier) Track 11 3 Byzantines - 2) Roumanie (T. Rougier) Track 12 3 Byzantines - 3) Grece (T. Rougier) Track 13 2 Mikrokosmos - 1) Quinte Diminuee (B. Bartok) Track 14 2 Mikrokosmos - 2) Rythme Bulgare 1 (B. Bartok) Track 15 3 Apuntes - 1) From Track 16 3 Apuntes - 2) From a Chamber Music Piece (L. Brouwer) Track 17 3 Apuntes - 3) On a Bulgarian Song (L. Brouwer) Track 18 Due Canzoni Lidie - 1) Espressivo 5:35 Track 19 Due Canzoni Lidie - 2) Agitato 2:59 Track 20 Demagogie for Guitar 1:35 Track 21 Dueo II - a Erik satie 3:05
"Cristina's playing is full of contrast (fluid yet precise, strong yet full of softness). She shows a remarkable familiarity with popular music while still retaining a refined style to play the music of the masters. A rare and sincere artist." - Daniel Ribouillault, Les Cahiers de la Guitare
"Technique so brilliant, it sparkles" - Raul Jose, In Tune, Arizona Classic Guitar Society
"This is a ravishing recital by a wonderfully talented new Brazilian guitarist....I played it three times straight through! One of the albums of the year." - Jeff Bradley, Denver Post
"Trust GSP Records to find the best in new guitar talent. Azuma doesn't fancy herself a Nicola Hall, which makes her eminently more likeable than the British Paganini wannabe&Her recital is likewise admirable and comforting, a unique pairing of Eastern Europeans with Latin Americans that finds common ground in the modal themes and forceful rhythms of both lands. If you don't hear virtuosic playing on this disc, it's because Azuma's fingers are so good, they let the heart speak for a change." - Bill Ellis, American Record Guide
"Hardly predictable...plays like a set of aural landscapes, highly romantic in the treatment of harmony, with references to places and literary ideas....Azuma also offers the premiere of Bellinati's complete Suite Contatos (Portuguese for contact) a lush and exotic five-movement work that more guitarists should consider adding to their repertoire." - Kurt Loft, The Tampa Tribune
"By judicious juxtaposition, the Brazilian classical maestra explores relationships between the folk music of northeastern Brazil and eastern Europe...pleasing, even tone...considerable finesse." - Jas Obrecht, Guitar Player
"She plays a wide range of music, ...with her characteristic clear balanced tone and delicate sensibility." - Gendai Guitar Magazine
"Rhythmically complex, musically colourful and intriguing, Azuma demonstrates her talent in an unusual but complementary mix&a cross-cultural feast!" - John Clayton, KFUO, St. Louis
"...a pleasant collection of music (some repertoire, some unusual) played by a guitarist of great ability." - Colin Cooper, Classical Guitar Magazine
"She plays a wide range of music&with her characteristic clear, balanced tone and delicate sensibility." - Gendai Guitar Magazine
"How can only six strings do so much? This album will go well with dry red wines and fine aged cheeses." - CW, NAPRA ReView
"Perhaps the adjective ...enchanting... best describes this assemblage of glorious selections that are, all at once, complex, colorful and haunting. Her playing is bold, yet sensitive as well as technically perfect yet heartfelt. Her fingers fly across the strings with all the dexterity in the world, but they seem to caress the strings to produce a romance between artist and composer. ...an aural delight that is soothing, exciting and eminently satisfying!" - Richard Fuller, Metaphysical Reviews
"This is a singular and exquisite classical guitar recital, built around the performer's awareness of rhythmic and modal similarities between music from northeastern Brazil and Europe. &exchange and reciprocity. Such elements do occur throughout this fascinating program, as does Cristina Azuma-s felicitous connection with the attentive listener." - John Sunier, Audio Magazine
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