This disc is a riot. Pedro I (1798-1834) was the first Emperor of Brazil, and he also fancied himself a composer. His style is pure Italian, as in Rossini, and the fact that the two major works on this disc are (theoretically) liturgical matters not a bit. They are pure opera buffa. If you thought the style of Haydn’s and Mozart’s Masses and other sacred works unsuitable for the Divine Service, then you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. Pedro was not at all interested in counterpoint, just “the tune,” and there are some delightful ones here, provided you can forget the words entirely. Both the Credo and Te Deum divide the texts into a series of arias and choruses, with recurring themes and orchestration that features solo woodwinds floated atop simple dance rhythms. The brief Ouverture comes across as a parody of the Italian opera style of the day, with an over-enthusiastic bass drum vulgarizing the texture most entertainingly, while the Hino da Independência do Brasil does exactly what you expect it to.
The performances here are quite confident and enthusiastic. Soprano Carla Cottini has the most solo music to sing, and she does it very well. In fact, all of the soloists have pleasing voices, except for tenor Cleyton Pulzi, who is pretty bad, but the chorus is just dandy, and the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra under Fabio Mechetti acquits itself admirably. Look: no one is going to claim that this is great music, but it’s lots of fun, and it sheds light on a fascinating corner of the world that few of us know anything about, especially during this period. It’s delightful to hear what can be done with these timeless texts when one ignores considerations such as, well, taste. In short, the music has a wonderful period flavor, and you’ll enjoy the opportunity to hear it.