Brazilian Baroque: A Musical Eldorado

Part of Ex Cathedra Season 2013/14 and

Birmingham International Concert Season 2013/14

Saturday 1st March

Town Hall

Ex Cathedra is a Town Hall Associate Artist

Ex Cathedra Choir and Baroque Orchestra

Jeffrey Skidmore conductor

Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra have done more than anyone else to uncover the vanished world of the South American Baroque: a lost civilisation of great choral music, sophisticated, passionate and intensely spiritual. Tonight’s programme introduces ravishing, almost unknown eighteenth-century music from Rio de Janeiro and the beautiful Baroque mining town of Ouro Preto: a musical Eldorado, restored to life with unmatched artistry and absolute commitment.


Et tractatu sancti Augustini

Manuel Cardoso (1566 – 1650)  (from Manuscripto do Grupo de Mogi das Cruzes)

March in G

Francisco Gomes da Rocham(1745 – 1808)

Missa a oito vozes e instrumentos 

    André da Silva Gomes (1754 – 1844)

                Kirie – Moderato

                Christe – Andante

                Kirie II


José Joachim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita

                Padre nosso

                Ave Maria


Missa a oito vozes e instrumentos


                Et in terra pax


                Laudamus  – Amorozo

                Gratias – Largo

Beata Virgo (Divertimento Harmônica no 1) 

    Luís Álvares Pinto (c. 1719 – c.1789)

Lições de solfejo XXV 

     Luís Álvares Pinto

Missa a oito vozes e instrumentos

                Domine Deus – Allegro

                Qui Tollis – Tropo Afectuozo

                Quoniam – Largheto         

                Cum sancto spiritu



Matais de Incêndios Vv 1-4

     Manuscripto do Grupo de Mogi das Cruzes  (17thcentury)

Missa Pastoril para a noite de Natal

     José MaurÍcio Nunes Garcia (1767 – 1830)

                Kyrie – Andante sostenuto               

                Gloria – Allegro spirituoso

                Laudamus te – Andante

                Gratias agimus tibi – Andante sostenuto

                Qui tollis – Andante sostenuto

                Qui sedes – Andante sostenuto

                Cum sancto spiritu – Andante sostenuto

Ascendit Deus 

   Theodoro Cyro de Souza (1761 – ?)

Missa Pastoril


                Et incaratus


                Et ressurexit

Matinas do Sábado Santo 

   José Joachim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita  (1746 – 1805)

               I Noturno Respnsório II – Jerusalem, surge

Missa Pastoril



     Benedictus – Andantino

     Agnus Dei – Andante sostenuto

Matais de Incêndios  Vv 5-8

Celebremos el niño 

     António Marques Lésbio (1639 -1709)



Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “Garcia’s music is thoroughly genial and relaxed; there was a genuinely pastoral feel about it and I liked the innocent charm with which he appeared to view Christmas Night.  The Kyrie had a Haydnesque feel to it; this was genuinely warm music. After the festive ‘Gloria’ there was a beguiling ‘Laudamus te’ for solo soprano which Katie Trethewey sang beautifully, supported by an ornate viola obbligato. She was one of no less than nine vocal soloists who made contributions during the Mass; all were excellent. Elizabeth Drury sang the florid, highly decorated ‘Qui sedes’ with a trio of male voices in support and a highlight of the performance was the duet between her and Katie Trethewey in the ‘Et incarnatus’. Here once more that delightful clarinet made its presence felt. The chorus work was no less impressive than it had been in the first half. Fittingly, for a Christmas Mass, the tone of the music was cheerful throughout. Garcia’s music may not have sounded serious but it was most certainly seriously composed; it was an accomplished and attractive work

 This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening even if the music didn’t quite have the feel of blazingly original discovery that one has had in previous Ex Cathedra programmes of this sort. This was more relaxed and, perhaps, less earthy music. No doubt part of the difference is also explained by the fact that much of this music was written a generation later. Nonetheless it was well worth hearing and it received splendid advocacy from Jeffrey Skidmore and his extremely skilled singers and instrumentalists. I doubt I shall ever have the chance to hear this music again – unless Ex Cathedra are able to record some of it – but I am very glad to have had the opportunity to do so. This consistently charming music warmed up a somewhat chilly evening in Birmingham.”



Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Essentially a choral ensemble, Ex Cathedra was joined by a small, specially assembled early music orchestra, led by Rodolfo Richter, who comes from Curitiba, where Skidmore had contributed to a Festival of Music during his Brazilian trip – a nice collaborative symmetry. Tonight’s programme, covering music from the early 17th to the early 19th centuries, centred around two Masses by significant composers, interspersed with shorter works in the liturgical gaps. The packed audience was captivated from the outset by Manuel Cardoso’s Et tractatu sancti Augustini, one of Brazil’s earliest surviving polyphony pieces. With a slow tempo and hypnotic waves of sound, a sextet at the heart of the oyster-shaped stage formation gently transported us with a feeling of calm, leading then to full choir. Minimal orchestral accompaniment in this piece, courtesy of the exotic looking theorbo, was contrasted with the instrumental March in G by Francisco Gomes da Rocha, which conjured up brash, carnivalesque marching bands on the Brazilian streets. A handful of musicians stationed separately in the balcony, above the rest of the company, delivered this number, then marched off. (Their work for the night wasn’t over, though, as they could be spotted and heard amongst their ground floor colleagues after the interval.)

One of the joys of listening to a choir as skilled as Ex Cathedra is the appreciation of the use of solo and ensemble singers from within their ranks. Tonight’s pieces called for that in spades, and there was corresponding movement around the stage as necessary, always perfectly choreographed and never intrusive. The first half’s main work, Missa a oito vozes e instrumentos by André da Silva Gomes, radical for its day, was further complicated by being written for two choirs with eight-voice fugues creating a very rich sound. Nor was the orchestration shy and retiring, trumpets emphasizing the sensation of full-blown praise in the Gloria, the atmosphere of the whole being spiritually uplifting. Exuberance was tempered by moments of calm, with lovely crunching harmonies, unanimous rests and a slowed pace, as Et in terra pax delivered moments of great peace.”     …



Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The other complete mass, Andre da Silva Gomes’ Mass for eight voices and instruments, was very different: richly textured, alternating two choirs, and with music by turns bold and assertive, the trumpets heralding the Gloria, or delicately persuasive as in the amoroso-styled Laudamus winningly sung by soprano Elizabeth Drury.

Skidmore ensured variety by interspersing a range of shorter items from Harmonic Diversions for organ; extracts from large-scale vocal works – Mesquita’s Jerusalem surges particularly impressive – and a lovely little March in G by da Rocha which had the childlike charm of Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony. Performances by orchestra, soloists, and the 50-strong choir, from which they were drawn, were excellent under Skidmore’s direction.”



Review by John Allison, Telegraph:

Click here for full review

…     “Two substantial Mass settings were threaded through the programme. The Missa a   oito vozes e instrumentos by André da Silva Gomes (1752-1844), a Lisbon-born   composer who was appointed to São Paulo’s cathedral, gains a certain   exuberance from prominent trumpet parts that would hardly be found in   equivalent European works, but otherwise it is hardly more adventurous than   Salieri on autopilot. 

Still, the eight-part fugue in the Kyrie had its moments, and the Quoniam was,   unusually, set for two tenors in duet. 

Most attractive of all was the music of José Maurício Nunes Garcìa (1767-1830),   the Rio-born mixed-race priest whose career flourished after the Portuguese   court transferred to Brazil in 1808. 

His Requiem,   written on the death of Queen Maria I, is considered his masterpiece,   but this concert showed that his Missa Pastoril para a noite de Natal is   captivating enough. A Christmas Mass, it captures something of the warmth of   a southern, sunny celebration, and its mixture of pungency and pastoralism   derives from the clarinet parts. 

Two other composers proved worth hearing. A handful of simple, devotional   pieces by José Joachim Emerico Lobo de Mesquita (1746-1805), who worked in   the gold-mining region around Ouro Preto, added guitar to the accompaniments   of strings and organ continuo.”     …



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