Caros Audiophiles, I have just returned from a wonderful sunny ten days in Portugal - first playing some golf and eating great seafood in Algarve, and then visiting many friends in Lisbon.
Usually I rent a car, but this time I spent some days walking around Lisbon, exploring the cobblestone streets of Estrela, Lapa, Bairro Alto, Chiado, Baixa and Alfama.
I discovered for the first time (incredibly after so many visits) the lovely old Jardim da Estrela, and the new extraordinary architectural shapes of Fundacao Champalimaud, which by night is beautifully lit, and the interesting regeneration of LX Factory area.
One rather surreal evening was spent with Portuguese friends watching a Noel Coward play performed in English by the mixed amateur/professional Lisbon Players in the charming intimate Estrela Theatre, followed by drinks in the bar Procopio where we met and sat until 3am with the long-time owner Alice and her fascinating friend Tete the renowned 'Clown Woman' who founded Chapito.
One afternoon alone, I found myself at the mirodouro of Sao Pedro da Alcantara, close to where my grandparents' house used to stand and where I remember being taken for fresh air as a very young child. Here, under shady trees and with wonderful views of Lisbon and Castelo Sao Jorge, I came across a street musician playing guitar and singing Portuguese and French chansons. The first song as I arrived seemed to capture the mood of the afternoon. When I asked the musician he told me the song was called "Menina dos Olhos d'Agua" by Pedro Barroso.
I have not before heard of his name. And in fact, when later I asked my friends about him, only one friend claimed to know his name.
I am stunned. I imagine that Pedro Barroso should be very well known in Portugal, almost an institution. Since returning to London I have been discovering his songs on YouTube and honestly, although I don't understand all the lyrics, I am a little obsessed with him right now.
His sonorous voice, and the way he phrases his words, is reminiscent of Charles Aznavour. And when he expressively recites his poetry, he reminds me of Leonard Cohen. And the acoompaniment of guitar, guitarra, flute, violin or accordion sounds traditional and timeless.
Hard to choose from so many lovely songs. I love "Agora Nao E Tarde", "Poema do Lavrador de Palavras aos Politicos", "Longe d'Aqui", among others.
But here I begin of course with "Menina" from the miradouro, in a recent version 'ao vivo', followed by "Setembro" also 'ao vivo' but by a much younger and impassioned PB :
Finally, "Esperanca" with its dramatic Latin finale reminiscent of Carmina Burana or Enya :
I will be interested to hear from you if Pedro Barroso is indeed well regarded and widely known. I hope so!