Choro, an instrumental music typical of Rio de Janeiro, is a popular form with some unusual characteristics. It appeared about 150 years ago and continued evolving and attracting new musicians with each new generation, escaping all the while the staid formalization that was so common to styles of this era.
It developed from the adaptation of European dances like the polka and schottische as they were transformed within the distinctively sentimental accents of Portugal and the spirited rhythms of Africa. Yet even so, Choro retained in its characteristic melodies some of its Baroque origins.
The kinship between these styles has long interested musicians and musicologists, but the first to look into these connections in any depth was Heitor Villa-Lobos, who composed the collection Bachianas Brasileiras, which tightened the bonds between Choro and the Baroque. Later on, the composer and pianist Radamés Gnattali linked a parallel path between Vivaldi and the Brazilian Choro composer Pixinguinha.
On Bach in Brazil, the polyphonic richness and the timbres of the instruments like the mandolin and the viola caipira (here serving the function of a kind of harpsichord, but with fingered chords), help to link still further the musical relationship so temporally and geographically distant. The resulting spirit, the resonance, is as if the hot sun of Rio de Janeiro began shining in the sober skies over Leipzig.
The octet that form Camerata Brasil feature the guitars (both six- and seven-stringed), cavaquinho (like a Hawaiian ukelele) and viola caipira (the viola braguesa, in Portugal) that are common to all the former Portuguese colonies throughout the world. In Brazil the strong presence of Italian immigration added the two mandolins. And the percussion that is such a common feature of Brazilian music capitalizes on elements from Brazils African and Arabic peoples. All this is anchored with a contrabass. Guest artists play on piano, violin and clarinet and soprano saxophone.
Attempts to broaden the formation of Choro groups began in the 1970s, when popular musicians with little formal training began experimenting. The sonorities fit so well with Choro styles that it touched off a rapid and sustained evolution, which continued fine-tuning the line-up. Coming from these efforts were groups like Camerata Carioca, the Orchestra de Cordas