Mozart à Portuguesa / Mozart in the Portuguese Manner

This quite original and interesting version of Mozart's Requiem reveals a performance practice of late eighteenth-century in Portugal, which was to compose or adapt works originally written for voices and orchestra, for a combination of voices accompanied only by the instruments of the continuous bass: a cello, two bassoons, double bass, and organ. This was a kind of expansion of the basso continuo's instruments role and writing, in which the set was treated like a small orchestra with a very particular and intimist color. This practice, most likely initiated due to financial difficulties for hiring extras musicians for certain ceremonies, could also serve as a way to highlight the capabilities of effective musicians hired. The writing for this set of instruments is quite complex, which demonstrates the technical skill of the musicians and the almost chamber-music intentions of the arrangers since it cannot be seeing as a reduction or facilitation, but true "chamber versions". The arrangement brings no authorship info but is a testimony of a period practice that proves a dynamic musical medium that apprehends, absorbs, filters, and transforms works for the local reality, within a great artistic power of adaptation. The concert was held with a portable Portuguese organ from the first half of the century. XVIII, a property of Americantiga Ensemble, and recently restored by the organ makers Pedro and Beate Guimarães. The tuning with Lá3 at 418Hz and the temperament used was meantone 1/6 coma, used in several organs from the Iberian peninsula until approximately the 1830s. The streamed concert brought interaction between music and poetry with the readings by the Galician poet and actress Conchi da Silva, by the writer and poet Mozambican Delmar Maia Gonçalves, who is the president of the Circle of Mozambican Writers in the Diaspora, and also by the writer and historian Manuela Gonzaga, responsible for the curatorship of the poems. The poems of profound reflective character that deal with themes of life and death in opposition to the musical works presented. The poems by classic authors such as Santa Teresa D’Avila, São João da Cruz and Frei Agostinho da Cruz were complemented by poems written by the readers themselves.

© 2020 by Ricardo Bernardes