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New Classical Tracks: Violinist Francesca Anderegg captures impressions of Brazilian life

Francesca Anderegg's new album collects impressions of the geographically, musically and culturally diverse country of Brazil. Francesca Anderegg
4min 59sec : New Classical Tracks: Francesca Anderegg
22min 8sec : New Classical Tracks: Francesca Anderegg (extended)

Francesca Anderegg/Erika Ribeiro — Images of Brazil (Naxos)

Sometimes things happen just by chance.

"My parents wanted us to play musical instruments, but they thought strings were more social. And when I say us, I'm a twin; so, it was myself and my twin brother. They handed us a violin and a cello and walked into the other room. We kind of squeaked around. And then when they came back in the room, I was holding the violin, so they said, 'OK, you can play the violin.'"

Francesca Anderegg is still playing the violin. In fact, she plays all over the world. She's originally from the East Coast. Now, she teaches at St. Olaf College, so home base is Northfield, Minn., where she lives with her infant son and her husband, noted Venezuelan-American composer Reinaldo Moya.

In 2015, Anderegg had the chance to tour and perform in Brazil. That's where she met pianist Erika Ribeiro. On their new release, they share images of Brazil.

"She knows a lot of contemporary composers and she also knows a lot of Brazilian repertoire, of which there is a great deal. None of it is known in the United States, and some of it is not very well known within Brazil either. And so, she has all these amazing pieces that she's always been waiting to play.

Francesca Anderegg: 'Images of Brazil' Francesca Anderegg

"She came here to Minnesota; we recorded at St. Olaf College. It was kind of funny to record Brazilian music when there was a foot of snow on the ground."

There's a lot more to this Brazilian music than many of us know. Talk a little bit about that depth and breadth of the music that you discovered.

"Like most Americans, I had heard of samba, and bossa nova, of course, but there were tons of Brazilian genres that I had literally never heard of. There's a classical piece on this recording which is called Tempo de Frevo. So, you have to know what that music sounds like, I think, in order to play it well. Erika helped me so much, pointing me toward different recordings and just kind of helping me get the sounds of these different kinds of music in my ear.

"One thing in general about the music is how rhythmic patterns, and sort of percussion and drumming, is such a huge feature of musical life in Brazil. So, what's interesting, is that there are these percussion patterns which are so well-known to everyone because you hear them in the street, and it might be very subtle in the classical music. To get that subtlety into the phrasing was a big challenge but was something we really worked on together.

"I think my favorite piece is the first song by Léa Freirie, the one that's titled Playing With Theo. It has a lot of quick rhythms, 7/8, 11/8, and it has this kind of, I don't know how to describe it, it's like a funny musical flow."

Probably the most familiar composer on this recording is Heitor Villa-Lobos, the 20th-century Brazilian composer. But the work you have chosen from this composer is not one that's very familiar, The Martyrdom of Insects.

"I love this work, too. It brings together a lot of different ideas, but it's also quite funny, the lament of the dying cicada in the first movement with these mournful trill, dissonant figures in the violin and piano, and then the fluttering tremolo in the second movement of the firefly.

"And then the last movement, The Moth Around the Flame, it's like Flight of the Bumblebee, but the dying bumblebee or the dying moth. So, there is this kind of dark humor to it, as well. I just love the dissonant harmonic places that Villa-Lobos goes to and how strange it can sound."

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Resources

Images of Brazil (Amazon)
Images of Brazil (YouTube)