On her previous CD, the Latin Grammy-nominated Historia del Tango, the exceptional Paraguayan guitarist Berta Rojas explored the popular music of Argentina, from Piazzolla to Carlos Gardel, aided by a 17-piece ensemble from Buenos Aires, Camerata Bariloche, conducted by Popi Spatocco. It’s a wonderful disc, filled with fresh and inventive takes on some familiar (and less-familiar) pieces. Now, for her excellent new album, Felicidade, Rojas has turned her attention to neighboring Brazil, again taking on a wide variety of pop, jazz, and classical composers (from Villa-Lobos and Bellinati to Tom Jobim and Egberto Gismonti) in arrangements that include solo guitar pieces, duos, a few vocal numbers featuring such iconic Brazilian performers as Gilberto Gil, Toquinho, and Ivan Lins, and several arranged for the National Symphonic Orchestra of Paraguay, conducted by Spatocco (who also produced the disc).
“I wanted to show the warm-hearted joy of the people [of Brazil] conveyed through music,” Rojas said in an interview conducted for the CD release. “There’s the exuberance of Carnival, African influences felt in the driving rhythms, but also a lyrical and harmonic lushness. To express that spirit, my arranger and conductor, Popi Spatocco, and I concentrated on melding the beauty of the guitar as the leading voice, with the power of a symphonic orchestra. It’s not often that classical guitar is heard performing this repertoire with an orchestra.”
Check out this engaging promo film for the new album, which gives a nice sense of the range and scope of the project. We’ll have more on Berta Rojas and this album in the Fall 2017 issue of Classical Guitar, out in August. You can hear the album through Spotify or Apple Music and purchase through iTunes and other outlets.