Georgina Rossi (viola) and Silvie Cheng (piano) – Chorinho (Navona Records)
“This music, it's so personal to us and I think you can really hear that in the recording,” says pianist Silvie Cheng. “It tugs on your heartstrings because we've poured in every ounce of soul and our love into it. Both our love for the music but also our love for each other.”
Cheng is a Tokyo-born Chinese Canadian pianist. She and Chilean American violist Georgina Rossi met while they were attending the Manhattan School of Music in New York. That’s where they shared an apartment and discovered their love of Latin American music. Their second recording together, titled Chorinho, celebrates the sounds of Brazil.
Cheng: “One of the pieces that we recorded by Souza Lima is called Chorinho, and so we just thought it was a nice way to not only enter into this world, but also pay homage to the traditions of music in Brazil.”
Rossi: “The choro can roughly be translated into the idea of a lament or cry. But I also felt like it was the right title for the album because the viola tends to get assigned all of these melancholic and elegiac types of music. And so, to me, it felt perfect that everywhere in the world the choro or the lament is perfectly suited to the voice of the viola. It's a way of saying that this is an album of viola music from Brazil.”
Let's talk about the other world premieres on this recording. One is a piece for solo viola. Georgina, I'm wondering, what does that mean to you to be able to include a solo work like this on this recording?
Rossi: “Well, Ernani Aguiar is the only living composer on the record. I was so happy to get to communicate with him directly and share the CD with him when it came out. He was very happy about it. I think he liked it.”
The largest work on this recording is the Sonata for Viola and Piano by Breno Blauth. Could you tell us what we're hearing in the piece and what you enjoy the most about playing it?
Cheng: “There's actually many moments that reminded us of perhaps Shostakovich or even Hindemith because of the harmonic language. I think it's for sure one of the pieces on the album that treats the two instruments as equal partners, and it covers such a wide spectrum of human emotions. There's intimate, tender moments. There's exuberant, almost feisty moments. It's a wonderful journey for our two instruments to have this dialog together.”
There's another fascinating composer who closes out this recording, and the piece you feature is is only a couple of minutes long. Her story, though, is so fascinating. I would love for you to tell us more about Chiquinha Gonzaga.
Rossi: “She was a pianist and composer, and she was Brazil's first woman conductor. She was a descendant of nobility on one side and slavery on the other, and she was in an arranged marriage where she was pressured by her father and her husband to quit music. And instead of doing that, she abandoned that marriage.”
Cheng: “And I think speaking to contemporary women musicians, we really felt it important to include a woman composer on this album, especially given the challenges that she faced in order to have her work be appreciated and heard. She wrote over 2000 songs and one of which, of course, is Lua Branca, which is featured on the album. It’s kind of the perfect way to close out this narrative that we've created.”
Georgina Rossi and Silvie Cheng – Chorinho (Amazon)
Georgina Rossi and Silvie Cheng – Chorinho (Navona Records)
Georgina Rossi (official site)
Silvie Cheng (official site)
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