Music for Viola and Piano from Brazil

João de Souza Lima composer
Osvaldo Lacerda composer
Ernani Aguiar composer
Heitor Villa-Lobos composer
Lindembergue Cardoso composer
Brenno Blauth composer
Chiquinha Gonzaga composer

Georgina Isabel Rossi viola
Silvie Cheng piano

Release Date: August 11, 2023
Catalog #: NV6537
Format: Digital & Physical
20th Century

Navona Records is proud to present CHORINHO, the new album by violist Georgina Rossi and pianist Silvie Cheng. Saturated with Brazil’s rich musical heritage, CHORINHO presents a slew of under-recognized works for viola, including world-premiere recordings of works by João de Souza Lima, Lindembergue Cardoso, and Ernani Aguiar. A solo piano interlude honors Heitor Villa-Lobos, the titan of Brazil’s 20th century musical scene. The concluding track, an arrangement of Chiquinha Gonzaga’s song Lua Branca by the two soloists themselves, hangs over the collection like a light. Vibrant, soulful, and expressive, CHORINHO offers a spectacular glimpse into a little-known area of Brazilian contemporary music.


Hear the full album on YouTube

"...consistently finessed eloquence of the highest sort."


Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Chorinho for viola and piano João de Souza Lima Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 7:09
02 Appassionato, Cantilena, e Toccata for viola and piano: I. Appassionato Osvaldo Lacerda Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 5:06
03 Appassionato, Cantilena, e Toccata for viola and piano: II. Cantilena Osvaldo Lacerda Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 5:09
04 Appassionato, Cantilena, e Toccata for viola and piano: III. Toccata Osvaldo Lacerda Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 2:50
05 Meloritmias: No.5 for solo viola: I. Ponteando Ernani Aguiar Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola 3:08
06 Meloritmias: No.5 for solo viola: II. Resposta ao bilhete do jogralrrapeixe Ernani Aguiar Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola 4:07
07 Meloritmias: No.5 for solo viola: III. Convite ao amigo Cristiano Ribeiro Ernani Aguiar Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola 4:03
08 Valsa da dor for solo piano Heitor Villa-Lobos Silvie Cheng, piano 5:39
09 Pequeno Estudio, op.78 for solo viola Lindembergue Cardoso Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola 8:06
10 Sonata for viola and piano: I. Dramático Brenno Blauth Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 7:20
11 Sonata for viola and piano: II. Evocativo Brenno Blauth Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 7:12
12 Sonata for viola and piano: III. Agitado Brenno Blauth Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 6:25
13 Lua branca (from the operetta: O Forrobodó) Chiquinha Gonzaga arr. Silvie Cheng, Georgina Rossi Georgina Isabel Rossi, viola; Silvie Cheng, piano 1:56

Recorded August 14–16, 2022 at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon NY
Recording Session Engineer, Mixing & Mastering Ryan Streber
Editing Ryan Streber, Edwin Huet

Liner Notes Georgina Rossi, Silvie Cheng
Editing Assistance Phil Rabovsky

Artwork Georgina Rossi
Photography Shervin Lainez, Tayla Nebesky

This album is dedicated to Roger Tapping, in memory of a wonderful teacher. Made possible with support from: The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in association with The New York Foundation for the Arts.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information


Georgina Isabel Rossi


Chilean-American violist Georgina Isabel Rossi is on the faculty of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s Instituto de Música. Her first album, Mobili: Music for Viola and Piano from Chile (New Focus Recordings), was praised as “expertly played” (WQXR), “a startling new recording” (CVNC Journal), and was one of KDFC’s picks for “Favorite Albums of the Year.” She plays a Buenos Aires-made viola by Leonardo Anderi from 2014, and a bow by Christian Wilhelm Knopf.

Silvie Cheng

Silvie Cheng


Chinese-Canadian pianist Silvie Cheng has performed in esteemed concert halls on five continents, from the California Center for the Arts to Brussels’ Flagey Hall, and the University of South Africa to Shanghai’s Poly Theatre. Close collaborations with composers of our time have led to over 50 world premieres since 2010, in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Cornell University, and the National Gallery of Canada. She tours extensively as the pianist of the Cheng² Duo and is a teaching-artist of The Orto Center at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.


Violists can be guilty of relying too much on a short list of tried-and-true pieces. Here is just a slice of the viola repertoire available from one of the world’s most musically wealthy countries — all highly playable, terrifically rewarding, and much of it pointed out to us already in recordings by Brazil’s own Perez Dworecki and by Barbara Westphal. It is an honor and pleasure for us to offer first recordings of the rest. We do so with utmost care and in full awareness of the difference an easily accessed, quality recording can make to the story of a work of music and its composer. We hope this album will inspire many more interpretations and performances to come. The repertoire is certainly deserving.

— Georgina Isabel Rossi & Silvie Cheng

Founder of the 38th chair of the Academia Brasileira de Música (ABM), João de Souza Lima (1898–1982) gained international renown for his dazzling career as a concert pianist. He studied with Luigi Chiaffarelli before moving to Paris on scholarship in 1919 to study with Marguerite Long at the Paris Conservatory. Souza Lima flourished in Paris, winning over audiences and learning from the likes of Madame Debussy and Maurice Ravel. He returned to São Paulo eleven years later, forming part of the Trio São Paulo and devoting himself to conducting and composing.1 Chorinho, dedicated to Perez Dworecki, is his only known work for viola. Meaning cry or lament, the choro is at the heart of Brazilian folklore — originally describing informal ensembles that gathered in the suburbs of 19th-century Río to improvise on popular musical imports such as the polka or waltz. Their music was plaintive, and the name stuck. By the time Souza Lima´s Chorinho was published in 1978, Heitor Villa-Lobos had already expanded the form to allow virtually limitless artistic freedom. Still, the spirit of improvisation remains key to this treasured genre, alongside traditional Brazilian polyrhythms and, of course, the forlorn mood.

1 Souza Lima´s autobiography, Moto Perpétuo, was published by IBRASA in 1982

Just as Europe was exporting the new musical avant-garde, Brazilian composers like M. Camargo Guarnieri and Heitor Villa-Lobos were crafting a national style that acknowledged and incorporated Brazil’s diverse musical heritage. Followers of the new European school were met with fervent resistance by this first generation of musical nacionalistas. Guarnieri´s infamous 1950 Open Letter to Musicians and Critics in Brazil, which viciously denounced dodecaphony, set the tone for the second half of the century’s academic musical landscape — dividing composers into what his pupil Osvaldo Costa de Lacerda (1927–2011) described as two “opposing and apparently irreconcilable camps: nationalism and the so-called vanguard.”2 None of the works in this collection fall neatly under the vanguard category, which speaks to the success of the nationalist school and the loyalty of its disciples. Notable among these was Lacerda himself, whose own neoclassical style is a model of refinement and sophistication. A staunch defender of musical nacionalismo and true intellectual, the São Paulo-born composer should not be mistaken for a conservative. His music is heartfelt, expressive, and deceptively modern. The 1977 Appassionato, Cantilena e Toccata for viola and piano is a study in chromaticism, weaving radical dissonance into lush harmonies and syncopations without ever losing the leanness and precision characteristic of his writing. It was named best work of chamber music by the São Paulo Association of Art Critics (APCA) in 1978 — the third of five times Lacerda received the award. The first Brazilian composer to be named a Guggenheim Fellow, Lacerda studied with Aaron Copland and Vittorio Giannini in the United States before returning to Brazil to become a dedicated pedagogue. He published several volumes on music theory and founded numerous institutions, including the still-active Brazilian Music Center. He held the ninth chair of the ABM.

2 Cardoso, Lindembergue, 1973. “Nationalism in Brazilian Music” In Music in Brazil Now: 14-16. Brasília: Ministério Das Relações Exteriores, Departamento Cultural.

Ernani Aguiar (b.1950) serves on the faculty of the Federal University of Río de Janeiro and as the fourth chair of the ABM. Originally from Petrópolis, Aguiar was a violist in his youth. He studied composition with César Guerra-Peixe and Sérgio Lorenzi before pursuing violin and conducting under Roberto Michelucci and Annibale Gianuario at the Cherubini Conservatory in Florence. Of the 14 Meloritmias Aguiar wrote for various solo instruments, No.5 (1987) is the only one for viola. The title is clear — a single musical idea integrating melody and rhythm. Aguiar accomplishes just that; even when playing a single line, the viola always carries at least two contrapuntal voices, making the rhythmic pattern intrinsic to the melody itself. The first movement, “Ponteando,” takes its name from the word for bridge, meaning in this context to strum.3 It is an improvisatory meander not unlike a baroque prélude. The second movement, “Resposta ao Bilhete do Jogralrrapeixe,” is a musical response to a work by his teacher Guerra-Peixe, Bilhete do Jogral, also for solo viola. Inspired by the tradition of the jogral, a kind of medieval jester,4 both pieces are highly theatrical and ask the viola to imitate the sound of the rabeca, a fiddle of Portuguese origin.5 Violists will recognize the musical quotations in the third movement, and its title, “Invitation to my Friend Cristiano Ribeiro,” offers its own humorous clue: “Ribeiro” is Portuguese for brook (German Bach), and the movement borrows its material from the J.C. Bach/Casadesus viola concerto. Meloritmias No.5 was composed in 1987 and premiered in 1988 by Marcelo Jaffé in Teresópolis, Río.

3 Pereira, Jessé. n.d. “A VIOLA de ARCO NA VIDA E OBRA de ERNANI AGUIAR.” Accessed February 13, 2023. ‌
4 Ibid
5 Ibid

It would be remiss to exclude Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959) from any collection of 20th-century Brazilian music. In his early years, Villa-Lobos earned a living as an itinerant cellist and guitarist, playing in restaurants and cinemas. A turning point came in 1918, when pianist Arthur Rubinstein heard him at the Cinema Odeon in Río. Rubinstein became Villa-Lobos’ lifelong champion — calling him a “musical genius” in an interview with the local newspaper A Notícia6 — and helping to establish his professional reputation and base of patronage. Villa-Lobos made Paris his home base from 1923 to 1930. Upon his return, he initiated broad reform in musical education as head of the Superintendência de Educação Musical e Artística (SEMA) — a notable appointment given his lack of specialized training or diplomas — spearheading a nationwide effort to reorganize the music curriculum of public schools.7 In 1945, he led the foundation of the ABM and became its first president. Today, he is widely credited with establishing a new national style of Brazilian music. One of Brazil’s most prolific composers, Villa-Lobos’ 2000+ works are characterized by “international nationalism,” a singular blend of indigenous, folk, African, and European classical influences as exemplified by his valsas, stylizations of the European waltz. Valsa da dor (1932), translating to waltz of pain or sorrow, symbolizes a journey into the depths of grief. In rondo form, each return of the main theme is slower and more dolorous, each wide descending leap in the melody weighed with more heartache. Like the stages of processing loss, the piece oscillates between episodes of restrained anger and tonalities of denial; after the final return of the theme in Lento, we ultimately surrender to acceptance.

6 Tygel, Júlia Zanlorenzi. 2014. “Béla Bártok e Heitor Villa-Lobos: abordagens composicionais a partir de repertórios tradicionais.” Doctoral Thesis, Escola de Comunicações e Artes, University of São Paulo; 235.
7 Appleby, David P. “The Educator.” Heitor Villa-Lobos: A Life (1887-1959), Scarecrow Press, Lanham, 2002, pp. 98–101.

Bahía-born Lindembergue Cardoso (1939–1988) first studied voice and bassoon at the Universidad Federal de Bahía (UFBA), where he later became a professor. A composition student of Ernst Widmar, Cardoso’s eclectic scores can tempt the listener to misclassify him as an avant-garde academic. Though he did study briefly with serialist Hans-Joachim Koellreutter, Cardoso was profoundly skeptical of any one compositional school. This attitude was reflected in the pithy mission statement of the Composers Group of Bahía, of which Cardoso was a founding member: “We are mainly against all and every asserted principle.” (This was, after all, 1966.) The composer and musicologist Ilza Nogueira, currently 27th chair of the ABM, describes Cardoso as a “pluralist,” highlighting his characteristic “intimacy with Brazilian folk and popular music; religiosity; timbral creativity; eclectic aesthetics… a heterodox attitude in the use of traditional musical systems… [and] openness towards the interpreter’s creativity….”8 In honor of the composer´s 70th birthday, Nogueira archived and revised Cardoso´s complete works, publishing a catalog in 2009 that compiles 189 finished and 43 unfinished pieces that run the gamut from large choral and symphonic repertoire to intimate chamber works. His only work for viola, the Pequeno Estudo (1981), was written as an audition piece for Wellington Gomes, who gave the premiere in 1989 at the Auditório da Reitoria of the UFBA.

8 Nogueira, Ilza. 2012. “Lindembergue Cardoso: Aspectos de Uma Obra Plural.” Per Musi, no. 25 (June): 7–26.

The Sonata for viola and piano by the Porto Alegre-born Brenno Blauth (1931–1993) was another recipient of the APCA’s prize for best work of chamber music. Composed in 1964, the style is at times highly lyrical, at others aggressive in a manner strikingly similar to Shostakovich. Blauth leans into extremes of register and character — no traces of clichéd Brazilian breeziness here. The suggestion of dance does appear in the emotional Evocativo, albeit in the form of an anguished waltz. A student of Paulo Silva and Newton Padúa, Blauth trained in both music and medicine and worked in the medical field his whole life — first as an ER doctor and later for a pharmaceutical company.9 Blauth’s love of Brazilian music led him to co-found the Movimiento Musical Renovador, a brief but significant movement based in Río de Janeiro that promoted Brazilian composition through monthly recitals, radio shows, seminars, and music festivals.

9 Bohm Bottega, Thiago. 2022. “Brenno Blauth’s Compositional Style Elements: A Study on the Sonata for Flute and Piano, T.5.” Dissertations, August.

Pianist, composer, and Brazil’s first woman conductor Francisca Edwiges Neves “Chiquinha” Gonzaga (1847–1936) is remembered for her pioneering career, her brilliant musical mind, and the courage with which she fought for her professional independence in an unlikely time. Having abandoned an arranged marriage that threatened to prohibit her musical work and become estranged from her family in the process, Gonzaga became a key figure in the creation of a Brazilian musical identity. Lua Branca (white moon), one of her 2,000+ songs, was written for her wildly successful operetta O Forrobodó, with text by Luiz Peixoto and Carlos Bettencourt. The work premiered in 1912, boasting 1500 repeat performances. Gonzaga’s revolutionary spirit was persistent. She donated her time and money to the abolitionist cause as soon as she had reached financial solvency through her music, and co-founded Brazil’s first artists’ copyright protection society (SBAT), working to ensure composers received fair compensation for their music. Her birthday, October 17th, marks the National Day of Brazilian Popular Music.