Daniel Murray: Universo Musical de Egberto Gismonti (CARMO/18)


Daniel Murray
Universo Musical de Egberto Gismonti

Daniel Murray 6-string and 10-string guitars
Recorded and mixed April 2018 at Visom Digital Studios, Rio de Janeiro
Recording engineer: Guido Pera
Mixed by Guido Pera and Egberto Gismonti
Produced by Egberto Gismonti
Release date: August 23, 2019

On July 19, 2015, Rio de Janeiro-born guitarist Daniel Murray sat down with one of his greatest musical heroes: Egberto Gismonti. After hours of sharing music, conversation, and dessert, he left the meeting inspired to start arranging Gismonti’s compositions for solo guitar. Gismonti so loved his first such attempt, “Forrobodó,” and the freedom of approach it embodied that he gave his approval for the present recording. The appropriately titled Universo Musical de Egberto Gismonti is filled to the brim with original arrangements of Gismonti’s music, save “Memória e Fado” and “Choro,” both already written for solo guitar.

Murray is an exquisitely talented musician possessed of technical virtuosity and a genuine adoration for Gismonti. But his deepest talent may just be his ability to balance clean, classical execution with open expression. This is most obvious in pieces like “Carmem” and “Memória e Fado,” in which his attention to detail shines. Sul tasto playing and harmonics speak of external ornamentation but of layers within. Some of the most coniferous tunes (e.g., “Água e Vinho” and “Baião Malandro”) are quietly re-clothed with finery, while “Sete Anéis” hides none of the heavy emotional lifting required to move it.

“Maracatu” and “Frevo” are among the more adventurous interpretations. Where the former opens with a flurry of extended sounds working their way into the tune proper, the latter offers its virtuosity in humility, taking on Gismonti’s butterfly effect without fear. And if “Saudações” is a kaleidoscopic wonder, then “A Fala da Paixão” is the lyrical light passing through it, as is the concluding “Palhaço,” in which breath surrenders to beauty.

There is a nocturnal feeling to this session that, in being so close to Gismonti’s heart, emphasizes the sunshine that awaits on the other side of life.

2 thoughts on “Daniel Murray: Universo Musical de Egberto Gismonti (CARMO/18)

  1. I normally agree with your reviews. In this case I do not. I listened to this album with expectations. I have been a lover of Gismonti’s music for decades and I always welcome when other artists revisit wonderful works. I was quite disappointed. You are right when you say that Murray is extremely dexterous player. Maybe too dexterous for his own good. I found his interpretations were so ornamented, so crowded with the many notes he can play, that the true spirit of the pieces has been lost. I do not listen to clean expression, like you do. Compare this album with Zsofia Boros pristine version of “Celebraçao da nupcias” on her album “Local objects”. This is balanced, classical expression. Alas, one cannot like every album that ECM or CARMO have released. Anyway, your review is deep and thoughtful, as always.

    1. I totally understand. I actually had a similar feeling when I first started listening to the album, but once I became accustomed to the sound, I felt like what he was doing was genuine. If his heart wasn’t in the music, it would have been obvious, and that won me over in the end. I always prefer to listen to Gismonti play Gismonti, though, no matter who interprets it 🙂

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