Sunday, May 29, 2011

Raymond Harvey, Alexandra Mascolo-David & Kalamazoo S.O. in 'Francisco Mignone: Fantasias Brasileiras' White Pine Music

[TOP: Francisco Mignone: Fantasias Brasileiras; Alexandra Mascolo-David, pianist; Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra; Raymond Harvey, Conductor; White Pine Music WPM223 (2010) BOTTOM: Raymond Harvey, Music Director and Conductor, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra]

We have long had an interest in the classical music of Brazil and other countries in South America. For several years we have been listening to Allison Brewster Franzetti's piano CD South American Landscapes; Premier Recordings (1994), which briefly samples the piano works of Francisco Mignone. It was a delight to find a complete recording devoted exclusively to Mignone's Fantasias Brasileiras (Brazilian Fantasies). Full-bodied brass and great rhythmic variety characterize this distinctive recording of Brazilian classical music. The CD is available online for $15 plus shipping. It may be ordered from White Pine Music at:

Raymond Harvey is Music Director and Conductor of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and graduated from the Yale School of Music with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. AfriClassical has followed Dr. Harvey with interest for years. The Bio at tells us: “With an immediately noticeable style that has been described as 'elegant, but suffused with energy,' Raymond Harvey has garnered critical acclaim on symphonic podiums throughout the United States. Now in his eleventh season as Music Director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Harvey was previously Music Director of the Springfield Symphony in Massachusetts and the Fresno Philharmonic in California.”

Francisco Mignone is considered one of Brazil's three principal composers of classical music in the 20th century, along with Heitor Villa-Lobos and Camargo Guarnieri. The piano soloist is Alexandra Mascolo-David, a Professor at Central Michigan University. She writes in the liner notes:

“For the past 20 years I have centered my research efforts on the piano music of Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone (1897-1986).” “In 2001, after years of surmounting obstacles, I released the compact disc of Mignone's 24 Valsas Brasileiras (Volume 1), and subsequently, in 2007, volume two. Soon after completing the Valsas Brasileiras, I chose to embark on a project of even greater proportions: the recording of Mignone's 4 Fanstasias Brasileiras for piano and orchestra. To do this, in 2007 I applied for and received a Research Excellence Fund Grant from Central Michigan University to record the Fantasias with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Raymond Harvey for the White Pine Music label.”

“In writing the Fantasias, Mignone drew inspiration from the Afro-Brazilian folk tradition and succeeded in combining beautiful African, indigenous, popular, folk, and original melodic formulas with the rhythmic complexity and intensity of drumming.” The recording caught the attention of the classical music staff at WGBH Radio in Boston. The CD features Fantasias Brasileiras Nos. 1-4 (49:01). “Keith's Classical Corner” on WGBH has produced a program which can be heard online on demand: “Alexandra Mascolo-David Plays Mignone's Fantasia No. 4.” Fantasia No. 4 (13:04) is performed in its entirety after a brief introduction.

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