After our stay in Teresópolis we returned to São Paulo briefly and then went on down to the coast to spend time with my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. After several weeks of sun and sea punctuated by joyful raspberry-blowing (for the mutual benefit of myself and my one year old grandchild), we returned to São Paulo for some serious music hunting.
Victor Biglione Trio at SESC Santana
First up was a concert by the guitarist Victor Biglione at SESC Santana which involved Mrs Voltarol and I in an adventurous treck across the city by tube. (I have just mentioned two of the most civilised aspects of São Paulo in one sentence – the underground rail network which, although not as extensive as the London tube, is incredibly efficient, reliable and clean, and the SESC network of venues, which are publicly funded and present an astonishing range of arts events at very reasonable prices.) Biglione, accompanied by double bass and drums, played a set of tunes which he has recently recorded as a Tom Jobim tribute. (This link also contains a more extensive biography of the artist.) He is an extremely fine guitarist and I am a great admirer of his work but on this occasion I came away slightly disappointed. The set was shorter than advertised and Biglione seemed a little detatched from us and the other two members of his trio. I think we must have caught him on a bad night because this clip from one of his gigs at another SESC in 2008 shows him in fine form. It’s certainly the same drummer that we saw but a different the bass player.
The following night we met up with our friend Alberto and his partner for a meal in a superb Uruguayan restaurant called El Tranvia. If you are a dedicated carnivore and you are ever in São Paulo then I recommend a visit. I’ve eaten there three times now and each experience has been better than the last. I shall also wax lyrical about the beer. We drank a Uruguayan brew called ‘Nordestina’ in preference to wine. I am extremely partial to wine – and especially red wine with good beef – but the Nordestina was a great accompaniment to the food. It even came in its own ice bucket!
The next night we set of on another treck – this time on foot – from our hotel just off Avenida Paulista to Parque do Ibirapuera, which is a long walk on a hot evening. We were off to see a performance by Hamilton de Holanda and Yamandu Costa (10 string bandolim (Brazilian Mandolin) and 7 string guitar respectively) at the Oscar Neimeyer – designed Auditório Ibirapuera which is a most extraordinary building and a great venue in all but one respect. So much attention has been paid to the – admittedly stunning - appearance of the foyer, that no provision has been made for a decent bar or restaurant. It might seem like an ungracious observation but there is nowhere within easy walking distance where one can get something to eat, and we were damned hungry by the time we got there.
The foyer of the Auditório Ibirapuera
Despite this it was an absolutely terrific gig. The acoustics, sound reinforcement system and lines of sight within the actual concert hall were excellent and the music was simply superb. The communication and mutual respect between the two players made for some phenomenal musical interplay and we left the venue feeling extremely uplifted. Even the absence of taxis and the long (mostly uphill) walk back to the hotel did not unduly dampen our –by this time - very hungry spirits so we availed ourselves of room service and had club sandwiches and caipirinhas for our late supper.
Here is a clip of them performing at the same venue in 2007.
To be continued…