While listening to a fado recording offers a special treat, listening to a live fado CD feels like luxuriating in a hot bath or indulging in chocolate cake. The sensual experience which combines poetry with a rainbow of emotions provides an opportunity for the listener to bond intimately with the singer. The super star Mariza came out with a live CD and DVD documentary several years ago which left a lasting impression. Now, Ana Moura, another Portuguese diva-super star leaves her mark on world music with Coliseu, a recording of a 2008 homecoming concert.
The magical evening is captured in 15 tracks in which Moura wraps her mouth around words as if they were delicious morsels. She carefully shapes every musical phrase with emotional nuances ranging from devastating heartbreak to questionable cheeky humor (And We Came Born of the Sea). So often the younger generation of fadistas such as Moura and Mariza pay homage to Amàlia Rodrigues, but in all honesty, I prefer the younger performers with their musical interpretation of older sentiments. Moura in any case, combines that old archival sound with pioneering arrangements, but she accomplishes this through subtle means. Besides in this case, I believe in living in the here and now; not resurrecting ghosts of celebrated performers.
Moura performs with only three musicians, Josè Manuel Neto (Portuguese guitar), Josè Elmiro Nunes (Portuguese and classical guitar) and Filipe Larsen (bass), but the trio captivates and provides more than a backdrop for Moura’s contralto vocals. Jorge Fernando comes on board as a producer and composer of the lion’s share of the songs and several fado styles appear on the recording (see liner notes). While Moura doesn’t compose any fados herself, she treats each of them as her own. Similar to an actress she sculpts the meaty roles that the fados provide.
The sad lament My Friend João shifts into a jaunty melody that seems incongruent with the text that reflects on an untimely death of a tragic figure. Moura delivers the text with sheer power. Her stunning performance of I belong to Fado, I’m a Fadista makes me weak in the knees and her heart-wrenching delivery of I Come to Voice My Fear causes me to swoon from the sadness. The bulk of the recording features songs of loss, mostly reflecting on love lost, except for the sexy nugget The First Time which portrays the passion that accompanies a new love affair. Certainly Moura rouses the senses with her authentic voice. She might pay homage to Rodrigues, but she takes ownership of the songs that appear on this recording and then some.