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Mariza: Concerto em Lisboa

Reviewed by Volker Poelzl

Mariza: Concerto em Lisboa

Concerto em Lisboa (2006) is the first live album by Portuguese singer Mariza. It was recorded during a live concert in September 2005 at a famous Lisbon landmark—the Belém tower by the banks of the Tagus River. The songs from this album draw from the large repertoire of Mariza’s previous three CD releases. The ballads present a great overview of her talent as a singer of Portugal’s most traditional music genre: the fado. Fado, as the name suggests (fado means “fate” in Portuguese), is a ballad about the tribulations of life, about nostalgia and longing, about lost loves and lost friends, but also about the feasts, processions, drinking bouts, and other aspects of Lisbon’s low life of times past. While Mariza expertly covers well-known traditional fado tunes, she also includes new material which leaves her own unique mark on the genre.

Mariza’s love affair with fado goes back many years. Born in Mozambique, she grew up in Lisbon’s Moraria district, a working class neighborhood known for its fado taverns, where she first began to sing as a young girl. By the time she released her first CD "Fado em Mim" in 2001, she was already well known in Lisbon’s fado circles. The album was an immediate success, not only in Portugal, but around the world. Since then she has won several international awards and nominations, such as BBC Radio 3's award for "Best European Artist in World Music" in 2003, and a Latin Grammy nomination in 2007 in the "Best Folk Album" category. She continues to perform at great venues around the world, from Europe to Australia, as well as the U.S.A.

Fado is not just about the music and the lyrics, but also about how the songs are performed and presented to the audience. Mariza has enormous charisma, and her performances have a great emotional intensity—which makes her stand out among other young singers. She walks a fine line between tradition and innovation. While she honors the great fado tradition and singers of the past, she is able add innovatations to the genre through subtle changes in arrangement and musical accompaniment, aided by her magnificent voice.  Her albums all contain traditional fado tunes, known and treasured in Portugal for generations, but she also makes room for a new generation of composers and new arrangements, mixing tradition with innovation. "Duas Lágrimas de Orvalho." a fado classic by Carlos do Carmo which she performs during her Lisbon concert, is accompanied only by the lone cello of Jacques Morelembaum—a Brazilian composer, arranger, and cellist, who wrote the arrangements for Mariza’s third release, Transparente (2004). This is quite a break from the traditional fado ensemble, which consists of of a viola-baixo (acoustic bass guitar), a Spanish guitar, and the twelve-stringed guitarra Portuguesa (Portuguese guitar, a long-necked lute).

In addition to her intensely emotional performances, she also brings a certain panache to her performances: Her lavish costumes and her engaging and charismatic stage presence lend an authenticity and sensuality to her performances which have not been seen on stage since the great "Queen of Fado" Amália Rodrigues several generations ago.

"Concerto em Lisboa" contains 18 tracks from the live concert and includes a bonus DVD with video clips from the concert and other material.

To find out more about Mariza and her music, visit www.mariza.com. YouTube.com also has several of her music videos on file.

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