Corpo Illuminado

Corpo Illuminado

by Cristina Branco
     
 

Like the stark, defiant music she sings so well, Portugal's Cristina Branco resists all efforts to muddy or mollify the fado on her first major U. S. release. Devoted as nearly all practitioners of Portugal's national song form are to the memory of Amália Rodrigues, Branco makes an easy peace with the legacy of fado's…  See more details below

Overview

Like the stark, defiant music she sings so well, Portugal's Cristina Branco resists all efforts to muddy or mollify the fado on her first major U. S. release. Devoted as nearly all practitioners of Portugal's national song form are to the memory of Amália Rodrigues, Branco makes an easy peace with the legacy of fado's brightest star. For one, her tender vocals are as affecting as Amália's while being completely her own. And as evidenced on "Tu Tens de Me Acontecer," she has had the black mantle of fado stardom draped upon her -- she performs the song accompanied by Amália's musicians. But the bulk of Corpo Iluminado rests upon the remarkable rapport between Branco and guitarist Custódio Castelo. His dextrous, filigreed lines on the eerily ringing Portuguese guitarra provide just the right piquancy to complement Branco's youthful, cherry-sweet vocals. "Aquele Táo Triste Dia," a duet between the two, is as notable for its loveliness as for its contemporary pop melody, translated into fado's existential idiom. Students of fado -- or Portuguese, for that matter -- might note that Branco steers clear of the most down-market fado themes of betrayal; even the jarringly titled "Disse-te Adeus e Morri" (I Said Goodbye to You and Died) preoccupies itself with a more contemplative sadness: "I said goodbye to you and I died/ And the quay emptied of you/ Accepted new tides/ Cries of lost seashells/ Robbed my senses/ Of the seagull that you are." This is enchantingly elegant music, touching on a near-cosmic sense of loss and desperation with a stately resignation -- "fado" literally means "fate" in Portuguese. Cristina Branco's destiny, however, doesn't seem that dark by half.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Chris Nickson
Cristina Branco might just be the best fado singer since the great Amalia Rodrigues, the woman who defined the genre. There's a subtlety to her voice that catches the emotions -- and fado, like blues or flamenco, is about feel -- and she never becomes histrionic, letting things stay in check, with the understatement much more eloquent. With this disc she refines and expands upon her two previous studio albums, even to the extent of the unaccompanied "Molinera" that closes the record, a song in a 13th century dialect. The musical relationship between Branco and husband Custodio Castelo, who arranges and plays the difficult Portuguese guitar (which gives fado its distinctive, mournful instrumental sound), continues to grow and deepen, while the other instruments -- guitar and double bass, build a framework for songs like the delicate "Musa." As with all fado, the lyrics are the crux of the matter, and Branco has chosen some beautiful poems (all well translated in the booklet), with "Tu Tens de Me Acontecer" a particular standout. But with a set this sublime, it's almost impossible to single out any one song above the others. There's a floating, breathless beauty about the whole thing that makes it timeless -- and over all too soon.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/12/2002
Label:
Decca U.S.
UPC:
0044001415128
catalogNumber:
014151

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Corpo Iluminado (Lighted Body)
  2. Meu Amor, Meu Amor (Meu Limão de Amargura) (My Lemon of Bitterness)
  3. Musa (Muse)
  4. Aconteceu (It Happened)
  5. Meu Amor é Marinheiro
  6. Memória de Meu Bem (Memories)
  7. Que Fazes Aí Lisboa (What Are You Doing There, Lisbon)
  8. Portos
  9. Aquele Tão Triste Dia (Cold Brightness)
  10. Locais (Night Star)
  11. Disse-Te Adeus E Morri (I Said Goodbye to You and Died)
  12. Mil Janelas (A Thousand Windows)
  13. Rio de Nuvens VIII (River of Clouds VIII)
  14. Tu Tens de Me Acontecer (You Must Happen to Me)
  15. No Fundo Do Pensamento (At the Bottom of My Thoughts)
  16. Molinera

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