Review


Traditional
Six Portuguese Folksongs:

Arranged by Bernard Scherr

Brass quintet

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2015
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Score and parts

Genre: BRASS ENSEMBLES

The Six Portuguese Folk Songs are an exercise in the joy of sharing and receiving the music of others. The songs in this publication come from the culture of northern Portugal. Bernie Scherr’s incisive arrangements combine the deftness of a skilled composer with the insights of a brass player.

The first song, Mourisca do Santo João de Braga, evokes the character of the religious festival for which this region of Europe is well-known. It takes the form of a stately march with a distinctive Latin flair. A Pastorinha (The Shepherdess) is a peaceful setting in a compound meter befitting its pastoral nature. Its haunting modal melody is passed throughout the ensemble, often accompanied by an even more active countermelody. O Xi-Xi (Wee-wee—yes, it means what you think), is a brief, playful, dance-like tune. O ai, o linda! (Oh the beauty) is a beautiful Andante. Its melody alternates between the lower and higher voices of the ensemble. Coradinha (The blushing one) is a lilting dance in six-eight meter. Its middle section moves to the minor mode. The final song, Carro amaricano (American Car), evokes memories of a Sunday afternoon drive. The music is reminiscent of an American cake-walk. It is light, playful, and not too fast.

Each song setting lasts between two and three minutes. Their technical challenges and range demands are reasonable, accessible to a college ensemble. The arrangements themselves are extremely well done. Scherr takes care to give each part musical interest and importance while remaining faithful to the character of the folk song. Audiences and performers alike will readily resonate with these arrangements.

Reviewer: Paul Overly
Review Published January 28, 2019