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Sentimental
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1874-1943)
14 Romances, Op. 34: XIV. Vocalise (1915) [4:49]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Melodia Sentimental (1958) [4:04]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Gypsy Songs, Op. 55: IV. Songs My Mother Taught Me (1880) [3:54]
Garoto/Chico BUARQUE
Gente Humilde [2:38]
Leo BROUWER (b.1939)
Un Dia De Noviembre [4:18]
Jayme OVALLE (1894-1955)
Azulăo [2:45]
Carla MAFFIOLETTI
O Sapo (1991) [3:27]
Voglio Amore (2017) [3:29]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Oblivion (1982) [4:30]
Vladimir VAVILOV (1925-1973)
Ave Maria (1970) [3:57]
Carla Maffioletti (voice and guitar)
rec. 2017, Netherlands
Private release [38:12]

Singer and classical guitarist Carla Maffioletti has crafted a ten-track album’s worth of pieces that range from her own compositions to Dvořák, by way of Rachmaninov, Leo Brouwer and Astor Piazzolla. If that sounds a recipe you’d enjoy, you should further know that the Brazilian-born musician first studied guitar in her homeland before pursuing opera and lieder studies with Mya Besselink at the Maastricht Conservatorium in the Netherlands. She most definitely has two strings (at least) to her bow in a career that saw wide publicity when for over a decade she was one of the featured musicians in the Sousa and Johann Strauss-sized juggernaut that is André Rieu’s orchestra (she gave her final performance there in 2014). Since then she has balanced performances as an operatic singer with her work as a guitarist and has also made stage appearances. She has dual Brazilian-Italian nationality.

The colourfully produced slimline disc includes a number of attractive photographs, not only of Carla Maffioletti but of the musicians who have worked with her on this album – most of the string players seem to be drawn from the Rieu orchestra from the looks of things in their photographs, though perhaps not all. Accompaniments are varied, from a simple piano or guitar to a more varied string quartet and double bass with intermediate steps in between.

The ethos is light and warm. Her Rachmaninov Vocalise opens the recital, with piano accompaniment, her strong voice turning a little hard under pressure at one or two points. With the melancholy cello playing an evocative commentary Villa-Lobos’s Melodia Sentimental is music from her native country and she both sings and accompanies on guitar to great effect. Though she is multi-lingual I wish she hadn’t sung Songs My Mother Taught Me in English as her diction isn’t always optimally clear in the language; nice violin obbligato, however. Her ‘mom’ joins her – her mother is Leda Maffioletti – for Gente Humilde in which they take a verse each but sing together toward the end in charming fashion. Carla Maffioletti shows her admirable qualities as a solo guitarist in the Brouwer which she vests with colour and together she and fellow vocalist Jutta Maria Böhnert present a finely sprung Azulăo with lyrics by Manuel Bandeira. Her own pieces are O Sapo, which she seems to have written when she was eleven, and is a light lyric solo guitar outing, and Voglio Amore, full of parlando-style warmth. Again, I didn’t find the lyrics for Piazzolla’s Oblivion, which are by David McNeal, very clear but there’s some very expressive playing, not least from first violinist Kremi Mineva, in the Ave Maria that was for so long attributed to Caccini; it’s a modern pastiche by Vladimir Vavilov.

This isn’t a terribly long album, pop and rock sized at 38-minutes. Rather than anything deadly serious, it is instead a calling card for nice arrangements, deft performances and genial stylistic breadth.

Jonathan Woolf

Other performers
Leda Maffioletti (voice)
Jutta Maria Böhnert (voice)
Marieke Keser (violin)
Els Merken (violin)
Enzo Kok (violin)
Kremi Mineva (violin)
Alina-Lin Jong-Merx (violin)
Linda Custers Slakhorst (viola)
Emerentia Knebel (viola)
Tanja Derwahl (cello)
Alex Geller (cello)
Suus van Petegem (piano)
Jan Knooren (bass)



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