Renzo Massarani – 3 Songs – Claudia Hasslinger, Gregorio Nardi

Azulão – A saudade dos provincianos – Occhi
by Renzo Massarani

Claudia Marie-Thérèse Hasslinger mezzo-soprano
Gregorio Nardi piano

In collaboration with
ICAMus – The International Center for American Music

The Italian-Brazilian Jewish composer Renzo Massarani (Mantova 1898 – Rio de Janeiro 1975) studied with Franz Schalk in Vienna and with Ottorino Respighi in Rome. His works had been highly appreciated until the promulgation of the fascist racial laws in 1938 marked the end of his musical career in Italy.

In 1939 he took refuge with his family in Rio de Janeiro where he was granted the Brazilian citizenship in 1945. After emigrating to the Americas, Massarani continued composing, but published only a few sparse pieces and even denied access to his own music manuscripts. Modern research and performance are currently dealing with the challenge of assessing the continuity of his work and retrieving rare, forgotten pieces. Gifted with a truly unique style compared with the other Italian and international composers of his generation, Massarani shows a constantly strong rhythmic interest and a highly emotional approach. The three songs included in this recording were composed after his expatriation.

Azulão Bluebird (1942)

This song, setting a popular poem by Manuel Bandeira (1886-1968), conveys the magical atmosphere and the poignant sense of loneliness of the Sertão, an arid and isolated area in northeastern Brazil. The only companion to whom it is possible to confide the pains of one’s heart is the Azulão, the little blue bird.

 A saudade dos provincianos The nostalgia of the provincials  (1942)

The poem by Cleómenes Campos (1895-1968) tells the story of a couple from the province hanging out linen at their window at the hour of evening prayer. As they remember their village and their past, they are moved to tears.

Massarani set to music this little scene in the style of a playful yet nostalgic Modinha, the old genre of Portuguese-Brazilian song. Massarani was deeply interest in Brazilian folklore, which he also personally transcribed and arranged in other vocal pieces.

Occhi Eyes (Composed in 1945; published by Ricordi Americana, Buenos Aires, in 1954)

Massarani composed this unique song to the enigmatic poem Occhi by the Italian writer and poet Giuseppe Valentini (Turin 1925-Florence 2015), whose poetry other composers also set to music in the same years, and who gained popularity as a young nearly-hermetic poet in the 1940s and 1950s.

The almost hypnotic beginning leads to the unquiet and tormented central part, (“Occhi sprecati a troppi fatti…” Eyes wasted on too many things…), with its relentless piano accompaniment.

The dramatic recitativo-like third section, (“Occhi neri come ciechi…” Eyes as black as blind…), ends pianissimo, almost spoken: “Seppelliti occhi neri.” Buried black eyes.

Caption to composer’s photo
In the cover’s image collage: Renzo Massarani in the 1930s. Used by permission. Thanks to Daniela Massarani.

Text by Manuel Bandeira

Vai vai azuão, companheiro, vai ver minha ingrata.
Diz que sem éla o sertão não è mais sertão.
Vai! Voa azulão!
Vai contar, companheiro, vai … vai….

A saudade dos provincianos
Text by Cleómenes Campos

Conversam na janela,
olhando para o poente,
os dois jovens recem casados,
que chegaram da provincia.
A torcer um lenço vagamente,
recordam com ternura
o tempo em que se amaram.
Longo tempo!
A principio ele, triste e descrente,
duvidou muito.
Ela tambem.
Mas so esperaram.
Um dia, ele voltou:
viramse novamente;
voltou anos após:
foi quando se casaram.
Que saudade lhes vem da provincia, nessa hora!….
Um sino tange, e os dois,
rezando concentrados,
atraem a atenção dos que passam lá fóra.
Ela fica suspensa,
ele fica suspenso:
que saudade lhes vêm!
E aos olhos já molhados
Levam no mesmo instante, a ansiar, o mesmo lenço. 

Text by Giuseppe Valentini

L’azzurro chiama stelle
innamorate dell’acqua distesa…
Le ciglia sono lente; sono scure.
Felice l’onda se marea la chiama.
Donde viene suo grido a questa luce
che tanto è ansiosa di farsi rubare?
Occhi turchini a tutto preparati,
vivi solo domani.
Occhi sprecati a troppi fatti,
fiamme a covare sotto la cenere,
cielo all’ombra di mezzo settembre.
Quell’orma spessa di dove ti viene?
Chi te l’ha tanto a lungo raccontata?
Occhi grigi… Un romanzo.
Occhi neri come ciechi
a lamentarsi di Ifigenia,
densi ancora del sangue d’Edipo.
S’azzuffano rauchi, s’azzuffano rari
con una sorte precisa e dura;
non s’ascolta un grido troppo alto.
Seppelliti occhi neri.