Mário Pacheco A Música e a Guitarra Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Disappointing outing by the fado guitarist...

Robert Jackman 2007

The opening licks of Mário Pacheco’s A Música e a Guitarra are certainly pleasant enough. At times they’re a little docile, but they always feel welcoming,

But the guitarist’s mistake, it seems, was to invite a troupe of accomplished fadistas to supply their verses.

It’s not that vocals aren’t welcome, and this certainly isn’t a criticism of Pacheco’s choice of singers. Indeed anyone with so much as a fleeting interest in Portuguese music will prick up their ears at the mention of Mariza and Camané – both of whom go on to exceed any expectations you may have.

But there’s a downside to this: as soon as his guests step up to the mic, Pacheco’s guitar playing struggles to hold the listener’s attention.

His ushering, emotive chords are banished into the background ambience - indeed they fade so easily it almost seems a willing resignation.

And from them on, it’s only the vocal performances which make this a memorable album.

And most memorable of all is “Há Uma Música do Povo”, Pacheco’s collaboration with faultless fado diva Mariza.

Mariza’s hearty touches are so spellbinding, that Pacheco himself takes a moment out to appreciate their power. He modestly lays down his guitarra, leaving the string quartet to supply a tender backing melody.

But once the vocalists leave stage A Música seems terribly empty and uninspiring. Pacheco’s soft, spindly finger-picking now seems more suited to backing music, than the stuff of a centre-stage performance.

While its cover carries a portrait of Pacheco affectionately strumming his twelve-string guitarra portuguesa, listening to A Música conjures up very different images.

As strange as it might seem to use the phrase in the context of traditional fado music, it’s impossible to argue otherwise. On record, Pacheco is firmly confined to second fiddle.

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