The Rodrigues family and I seem to share a distant personal connection. The father, violist Ernesto, was among the first people to alert me to the fruits of his labor on the ever-magnificent Creative Sources imprint. His talented cellist son Guilherme, besides collaborating with illustrious comrades already at the age of 15 or so, launched his webpage in the early 2000s with a somewhat naive introduction scribbled by a still-young Massimo Ricci. Twenty years later, with more experience and more sophisticated improvisational and compositional skills, Guilherme Rodrigues exhibits a significant advancement in his own musical development. I’ll go right to the point: this CD is superb, one of the few in recent months that were revisited time and again in this writer’s house.
The album’s title is quite straightforward, and easily understood since the inaugural listen. Except for a single episode captured within a historical boat, the recordings took place inside ten different churches, whose spaces facilitated the natural extension of the cello’s voice, enriching it with an air that is indeed sacred, but of a “clean” sacredness, unsoiled by religious or faux-otherworldly implications. Although the audio quality would make ECM’s Manfred Eicher jealous, it fortunately lacks the German label’s trademark coldness that sometimes shields the sonorities from revealing their throbbing hearts. There is no feeling of excessive fragmentation or lack of structural consistency despite the program consisting of 58 tracks (!), many of them fleetingly concise. On the contrary, what is heard is, in all actuality, suggestive of a full-fledged suite for solo cello.
When the soul of an instrumentalist is tuned to a concept of whole vibration – meaning both inner and outer – they are able to extract from the instrument, with firm yet sensitive touch, all the myriad nuances that define it. This is exactly how it sounds as one’s ears get used to Rodrigues’ acumen, always in line with the expressive signal’s deepest connotation, not overly virtuous, eventually capable of transmitting to the listener a sense of sober solemnity that is hard to find nowadays. Whatever you hear in Acoustic Reverb will comprehensively satisfy your psychosomatic nature, whether it be combinations of singing partials, melody fragments flavored with Bachian canon, minimalist cues, rattling drones bathed in glissando, or string and wood noises that nearly let you smell the cello itself. It is music that puts the audience in a calm mental state, entirely open to consistent evidence of evolution. A reminder to get back on track and resume paying attention to the pitch’s oscillating core, the diaphanous halo around it, the resonating silence currently not included in the lingo of the dominant auditory mediocrity. Thankfully, Guilherme Rodrigues has never been a part of that ridiculous anthropomorphic microcosm.