Pedra Mística

Harvey Sollberger

Antônio is one of the most natively-gifted and instinctive musicians I have ever encountered. While his recent music could be called modernist or cosmopolitan, I feel it is a music that no one raised in Europe or North America could write. I feel I know Brazil – or what is most colorful, vivid and alive in it – through his music. His story is fascinating: growing up on a farm with no musical instruction, he became a musician as if by instinct, learning the accordion and becoming a professional player of Brazilian country and western music while a teenager. And exploring at the same time experiments in sound and its possibilities that he later learned were called “avant-garde”.

His “Pedra Mistica” for four soloists, chamber choir and orchestra is a fascinating journey through his fecund and rich musical imagination. It limns a provocative and unsettling message based on the conflation, in Liberio Neve’s poem which he has set, of the “rock” on which the Catholic Church was built, Saint Peter (“Pedro” in Portuguese), and the Portuguese word for stone, “pedra”. The climax of the piece arrives at the dramatic iterations of the word “putrefeita” (it means what you think) in three different languages. This may not be an “a good time was had by all” – type piece, but it is an intense and challenging work by one of South America’s leading composers (SOLLBERGER, 2006).