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Pedro I of Brazil: Te Deum Credo

Pedro I of Brazil: Te Deum Credo

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Dom Pedro I was the first Emperor of Brazil, proclaiming its independence from Portugal in 1822. A gifted musician, Pedro I is one of only a few monarchs to have become known as a composer. A performance of his Abertura (‘Overture’) was organized in Paris in 1832 with some in the audience convinced that it had been composed by Rossini, while the Hino da Independênciado Brasil (‘Hymn to the Independence of Brazil’) remains one of the country’s best-loved anthems. Operatic in character, the Te Deum celebrated the baptism of Pedro’s first son, and the joyous Credo is one of his most frequently performed works.


Pedro’s capable works serve as reminder about the potent—if all too natural—mix of politics and music history. Brazil’s first emperor showed considerable musical talent as a child. Stories abound about his rich singing voice and fine technique on several instruments. He studied composition in the Rio de Janeiro court with Marcos Portugal, who had achieved fame in Europe for Italian opera. He also learned from Sigismund Neukomm, once a pupil of Joseph Haydn.

The Te Deum and Credo on this recording are two of Pedro’s largest extant works. Both show an affinity for theatrical flair and bel canto styles. The composer’s mastery of dramatic contrasts reveals a unique blend of religious reverence and celebratory zeal.

A world-premiere recording, the Te Deum offers both intensity and reflection. Conductor Fabio Mechetti and the modern-instrument Minas Gerais Philharmonic convey seismic urgency throughout. The soloists are likewise superb. Soprano Carla Cottini finds the melancholy of “Tu ad liberandum.” The dark blend of mezzo-soprano Luisa Francesconi and tenor Cleyton Pulzi tease out the pathos of “Te ergo.”

Lighter in style is Pedro’s Abertura, an overture famously performed under Rossini’s baton at the Theatre Italien in Paris in 1832. Here, the emperor shows his greatest debt to the celebrated operatic composer. Strings and winds dance gracefully as Mechetti and the orchestra convey joy and exuberance. They do the same in the Hino da Independência, Pedro’s familiar anthem to Brazilian independence. Chorus and orchestra reveal all its pomp and ceremony, a timeless call for unity in the wake of the current political turmoil.

-- Early Music America (Aaron Keebaugh)

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. (David Hurwitz)

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: September 09, 2022

  • UPC: 747313440474

  • Catalog Number: 8574404

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Romantic

  • Composer: Pedro I of Brazil

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Concentus Musicum de Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Performer: Carla Cottini, Luisa Francesconi, Cleyton Pulzi, Licio Bruno, Iara Fricker Matte, Fabio Mechetti