Cristina Braga & Brandenburger Symphoniker: Whisper

Jack Bowers By

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Cristina Braga & Brandenburger Symphoniker: Whisper
It's not often that a harpist's name crowns the marquee above that of a jazz quintet and symphony orchestra, but that is the case on Whisper, the latest CD by Brazilian-born harpist / singer Cristina Braga whose almost-whispered vocals and virtuosic harp command the spotlight in a concert performance in the Great Hall of the Brandenburger Theatre in Germany. Braga is supported by the Modern Samba Quintet, the Brandenburger Symphoniker Orchestra and special guest Dado Villa-Lobos on guitar and vocals.

This is for the most part gracious, gentle music that lands easily on the ear, with Braga serenely reciting sambas and bossas by Jobim, Joao Donato, Dori Caymmi, Baden Powell and others in a program whose subtext is "The Bossa Nova Brandenburg Concerto," presumably because of the location, as there is no Bach anywhere on the premises. Two numbers break the tranquil mold: Powell's "Samba Triste" and Donato's "A Ra," on which Braga and her colleagues show that buoyancy and heat are also an essential part of their repertoire. After singing in Portuguese most of the way, Braga turns to English on "Last Words" (for which she wrote the lyric) and "All Mine," which immediately precede the sublime finale, Vinicius de Moraes / Edu Lobo's "Canto Triste."

Even though the orchestra is an indispensable part of the whole, conductor Tobias Volkmann is faithful to its supporting role, assuring that Braga and the quintet are securely out front and in the driver's seat until its assistance is needed. Braga, who is principal harpist with the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theatre Symphony Orchestra, shows her jazz (and classical) chops on a handful of tracks, and there are brief but effective solos by trumpeter Jesse Sadoc, vibraphonist Arthur Dutra and bassist Ricardo Medeiros from the quintet. Medeiros and Sadoc garner warm applause for their crisp improvisations on "A Ra." Braga, meanwhile, is splendid throughout, the quintet and orchestra no less so. For what it is, an elegant and engaging concert performance.

Track Listing

Meditation; Samba Triste; E Doce Morrer; No Mar; Whisper on a Prelude; Mot D’Amour; A Ra; Last Words; All Mine; Canto Triste.


Cristina Braga: voice, harp. Modern Samba Quintet – Jesse Sadoc: trumpet; Arthur Dutra: vibraphone; Ricardo Medeiros: bass; Claudio Wilner: percussion; Mauro Martins: drums. Brandenburger Symphoniker – Tobias Volkman: conductor; Andreas Preisser: violin; Chidori Sokooshi: violin; Klaus Hoyer: violin; Till Handrick: violin; Olivia Kucharska: violin; Katja Kulesza: violin; Uwe Kinderick: violin; Ralf Wittman: violin; Giulia Bellingeri: violin; Izabela Powichrowska: violin; Matthias Erbe: violin; Franca Rudolph: violin; Ralf Damming: violin; Ruth Gerner: violin; Friederike Dietz: violin; Meike Schirling: violin; Auret Botoi: violin; Nikolai Nikolov: viola; Markeljan Kocibeli: viola; Geraldo Brandigi: viola; Demna Gigova: viola; Andreas Posch: viola; Robert Friedrich: cello; Ute Doring: cello; Joachim Kohler: cello; Stefan Immel: cello; Fabio Caggese: bass; Josif Schmuschkowitsch: bass; Rudiger Dierks: bass; Susanne Pietrowski: flute; Martin Bosse-Platiere: flute; Anje Thierbach: oboe; Benjamin Kahleyss: oboe; Rico Wolff: clarinet; Marco Dommus: clarinet; Sebastian Pietsch: bassoon; Rainer Walenta: bassoon; Richard Mosthaf: horn; Henrik Moderegger: horn; Frank Tietze: trumpet; Andreas Weitzer: trumpet; Martin Sander: trumpet; Burkhard Gotze: trombone; Soren Fries: trombone. Special Guest Artist – Dado Villa-Lobos: voice, guitar.

Album information

Title: Whisper | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Enja Records

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