Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Johannes Tonio Kreusch
By Jochen Becker, Kabir Sehgal
The extraordinary life story and career of Brazilian guitarist, arranger and teacher Carlos Barbosa-Lima has now spanned over six decades and crossed many musical genres, from Classical to Brazilian sambas and Bossa Novas, from Latin American folk music to Gershwin and Bernstein. According to his own count, he recorded more than 70 albums, including his most recent ten CDs for ZOHO Music. He has also published over 1000 guitar arrangements and transcriptions so far.
The composers and guitarists Carlos has befriended or collaborated with read like a virtual musical who-is-who of 20th century Classical music, and include Andres Segovia, Alberto Ginastera, Antonio Carlos-Jobim, Luiz Bonfa, and Leo Brouwer. His guitar arrangements and transcriptions have been recorded by many artists, including by his earlier duo partner Sharon Isbin.
In 2017, Carlos was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Five Towns College in Long Island, NY in recognition of his lifelong achievements in developing and performing Brazilian and Latin American repertoire for acoustic guitar.
His latest album Manisero, musically adventurous as ever, is covering unique new ground by being Carlos’ first album recorded in Munich, Germany. It is his first recorded collaboration with his frequent German classical guitar duo partner Johannes Tonio Kreusch, featuring a baker’s dozen of Carlos’ new arrangements of some of the most iconic Mexican, Brazilian, and Argentinian 20th century classics.
Johannes Tonio Kreusch, one of the “most creative classical guitarists of the present” (Acoustic Guitar Magazine), studied at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Since his solo debut at the Carnegie Recital Hall in 1996, concert tours as a soloist and chamber musician have taken him to many cities in Europe, the USA, the Far East and Latin America. His intensive collaboration with composers of our time resulted in numerous new works for the guitar.
Johannes Tonio Kreusch regularly collaborates with renowned musicians from the fields of classical music and improvised music, such as Markus Stockhausen, Giora Feidman, and his brother, noted jazz pianist Cornelius Claudio Kreusch. Cornelius can be heard providing sparkling, but subtle piano accompaniments on four compositions on this album, in addition to being one of the producers.
With El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor), the duo starts on a brilliant high note with their version of what is arguably one of the most famous and well-loved Cuban songs of all time. It was written in 1927 by Moises Simon, (1889–1945), the Cuban son of a Spanish musician. Not only has the song been recorded hundreds of times since, it was also featured in many classic films, featuring Ernesto Lecuona, Judy Garland, and Groucho Marx,
Of similarly iconic status, but in Brazilian music of the 20th century, “Manhã de Carnaval” (“Carnival Morning”), written by Luiz Bonfa, appeared as a principal musical theme in the 1959 Portuguese-language film Orfeu Negro by French director Marcel Camus. The song’s musical genre-crossing appeal is evidenced by its many recordings by artists as diverse as Astrud Gilbero, Joan Baez, Frank Sinatra, Cher, Julio Iglesias, and Daniel Barenboim.
Carlos’ arrangement of the slow Mexican bolero Solamente Una Vez by Agustin Lara, written in 194, is another high point, with its Latin-swing improvisation, and with its sophisticated harmonic treatment. An English version of the song entitled “You Belong to My Heart” is featured in the live action/animated Disney Film “The Three Caballeros” from 1945.
Canta, Canta Mais is a beautiful Brazilian ballad by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicus de Moraes which was first released by the composer on a privately commissioned studio album in 1987 in a limited edition to celebrate his 60th birthday. It was re-released for the general public in 1995.
¡Ay, Jalisco, no te rajes! is a Mexican ranchera song by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto Cortázar Sr. It was written in 1941 and became an enormous hit in Mexico. The melody of the song was used as the title song of the previously mentioned Disney film The Three Caballeros.
Por Causa de Voce is a bossa nova song composed in 1957 by Antônio Carlos Jobim. The song became famous when Frank Sinatra recorded the song with Jobim in 1969, under the title “Don’t Ever Go Away”, which was then released on his album Sinatra & Company in 1971.
Rosa, a Brazilian choro song, was composed by Alfredo Vianna AKA Pixinguinha when he was 18 years old, in 1917. It marked the beginning of a career which made Pixinguinha one of the most popular composers of Brazilian popular music in the first half of the 20th century.
“Cielito Lindo” is a popular traditional Mexican song, composed by Quirino Mendoza y Cortes in 1882. In recent decades it has come to be widely known as a theme song for Mexicans, particularly in international circumstances, like the Soccer Championship World Cup, where Mexican fans sang it to the Mexican national team.
With the next three tracks on the album, we are reaching one of the central milestones of Carlos’ career – his collaboration with the famous Argentinian classical composer Alberto Ginastera. Ginastera composed his Guitar Sonata op. 47 for Carlos in 1976 and dedicated it to him. As a sign of gratitude and appreciation, Carlos returned the favor to the maestro by creating virtuosic two-guitar arrangements of three compositions on this album: Danzas Criollas I & II are arrangements of Ginastera’s Suite de Danzas Criollas for Piano op. 15 from 1946. Gato originates from the composer’s song cycle Cinco Canciones Populares Argentinas op 10, from 1943.
No anthology of Latin American or Brazilian classical music can be possibly comprehensive if it does not include a work by Brazil’s leading 20th century composer Heitor Villa-Lobos! Sentimental Melody is the third movement of a large, 1958 Villa-Lobos composition called Floresta do Amazonas (Forest of the Amazon), a symphonic poem for voice, male chorus & orchestra, A. 551 which Carlos arranged into a stunningly beautiful two-guitar piece.
Beloved Mexican composer Manuel Ponce (1882 – 1948) wrote many compositions in classical and folkloric Mexican styles, but none of them as enduringly famous as his song Estrellita from 1912.
With their bi-cultural Brazilian-German collaboration on Manisero, Carlos and Johannes have given the acoustic guitar world a profoundly beautiful, multi-faceted and deeply touching work of art, giving the listener enjoyment, smiles, reflection and calmness of spirit in equal measure. Music can’t do more.
— Joachim “Jochen” Becker and Kabir Sehgal