The Sound Cafe
Portugal's Multi Faceted Singer Lara Martins To Release First Solo Album
By Angie Lemon.
photograph by João Azevedo
CANÇÃO is the first solo album from singer Lara Martins; a beautiful collection of 22 pieces encompassing tango, Brazilian music and Portuguese fado. The songs are performed with piano, cello and bandoneon, giving room and space for Lara’s voice to guide and define the album’s journey. Lara celebrates the music of her homeland, Portugal, with stunning fado classics including ‘Trova do vento que passa’ (Song of the Passing Wind), ‘Com que voz’ (With which voice) and ‘Abandono’ (Abandonment). Portuguese pianist and composer, Daniel Bernardes composed 2 compositions for Lara Martins on CANÇÃO. CANÇÃO features the first complete recording of Brazilian composer Camargo Guarnieri's 13 love songs ever made.
Recognized as an international singer as well as a leading theatre thespian, Lara’s diverse roles have included: a record-breaking run as Carlotta in London’s Phantom of the Opera; The Magic Flute’s Queen of the Night and Candide’s Cunegonde (Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon) to name a select few. Lara’s repertoire reveals a singer with great versatility: from Mozart to Sondheim, Donizetti, Richard Strauss, Manuel de Falla, Kurt Weill, Gershwin, Bernstein or A. Lloyd Webber.
Each song on CANÇÃO forms part of a careful selection of important musical and cultural influences on Lara’s career and life, as she says in her own words, “A reflection of the society in which it is found, this repertoire also represents a collective identity, acting as a link in the intercultural chain. With this principle in mind, and with my own cultural roots as a starting point, I decided to explore the triangle between the Tango (Astor Piazzolla), Brazilian music (Guarnieri) and Fado (three themes which Amália Rodrigues made her own), with the addition of a touch of modernity in the form of two miniatures by Daniel Bernardes.”
CANÇÃO has compositions from five composers starting with tango from Argentina’s founder of nuevo tango, bandoneon virtuoso, Astor Piazzolla (19s21-1992). Lara adores the “dramatic, theatrical and seductive verve” of Piazzolla’s music.
CANÇÃO also features two miniature pieces of music – Data and Barco – composed specifically for Lara by Portuguese composer Daniel Bernardes set to the poetry from celebrated Portuguese poet, Sophia de Mello Breyner. These songs encompass jazz influences within modern classical and jazz themes. As Lara reflects, “These two beautiful songs, Data and Barco, irresistibly intimate in character, are excellent examples of music that translates poetic content while simultaneously empowering it.”
The majority of the pieces on CANÇÃO are from the works of the late Brazilian composer, Camargo Guarnieri (1907 – 1993). Shortly before his passing in 1993, Guarnieri was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Prize from the Organisation of American States as recognition of his work as the greatest contemporary composer of the Americas.
The last 3 compositions on CANÇÃO are the zenith of the album with the fado ballad ‘Trova do Vento que Passa’ by Alain Oulman, one of the stand-out vocal tracks on the album. Tenderly performed, Lara’s voice hovers on the edge of a deep emotional chasm and keeps the tension there perfectly balanced fado, “I ask the passing wind/News from my country/And the wind shuts down the disgrace/The wind says nothing to me.”
The concluding compositions on CANÇÃO – ‘Com que voz’ and ‘Abandono’ – are also from Portuguese songwriter, Alain Oulman, who wrote some of Amália Rodrigues’s biggest hits. Fado and tango are intertwined genres in Lara’s personal musical journey as she says in her own words, “From the song of the Tango to the intimacy of the Fado, interpretation starts with the written word, encompassing a Transatlantic journey which has left traces in my heart.”
CANÇÃO was produced by author and musicologist, Tiago Manuel de Hora, co-founder of the Portuguese cultural management company, Artway Culture & Arts which programmes a series of concerts, shows and album recordings for special projects. Lara Martins has performed from Russia to Switzerland and from Portugal to the UK including gala concerts at many of the world’s finest opera houses including Opera de Toulon, Opera de Marseille, Opera d’Avignon and the Floral Hall at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. CANÇÃO is the next project in the remarkable career of Lara Martins and is a beautiful new journey exploring musical genres that have helped define her life thus far. CANÇÃO is being released internationally through Artway Records on January 29, 2021.