Duo Brazil
Monday, 4 August 2008 at 10:30am • Christ Church Cathedral

Performers Donna Brown, soprano; Andrew Mah, guitar

Reviewer Barry Arnett

Mid morning may not be the best time for performing (or listening), but internationally acclaimed soprano, Donna Brown and Andrew Mah, guitar virtuoso, turned the occasion into a wonderful feast of Brazilian music. Their keen interest in this music was evident throughout the program.

The duo joined forces in 2007 to form Duo Brazil while still continuing their solo careers.

Donna Brown has received critical acclaim for many operatic roles on the world’s great stages. Her recital interest is evident in her relaxed manner and clarity of diction that is most enjoyable.

Andrew Mah was born in Ottawa to a family of guitarists and has a special command and understanding of the music of Brazil. He has been a professional musician for 15 years and arranged many works. His current interests include the choro guitar and the music of Cape Verde (Africa).

The audience heard works by Ovalle, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Luiz Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paulo Bellinati, Baden Powell de Aquino, and other Brazilian composers.

Mah’s percussion ability was evident in Jongo for solo guitar along with his considerable dexterous skill.

Samba de Manha was written by Mah and paid tribute to Vancouver’s mountains and scenery.

The next piece was Bonfa's classic piece, Manha de Carnival, made famous in the movie "Black Orpheus." It was was sung with passion by Donna Brown, and it’s easy to see why it became one of the jazz standards. It has English lyrics with the title "A Day in the Life of a Fool."

The encore was the Jobim classic Girl from Ipanema, which Brown sang with sensitivity and humour in Portuguese first, then in English.

Ms. Brown should parlay some fans from this recital to the Chan Centre, on Sunday, 10 August where she will sing in a Johannes Brahms- A German Requiem concert in the Festival series.

All in all, a perfect way to start the day.

© 2008 Barry Arnett