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Brazil's Atlantic forest is inspiration for
Luiz Simas' new piano suite

February 5, 2011 – Luiz Simas, a Brazilian pianist, composer and arranger based in New York City, has composed a new piano suite inspired by Brazil's Atlantic forest. Mata Atlântica Piano Suite will be released soon. Luiz described the suite's three movements in an e-mail to us and enclosed a sneak preview of the third movement, entitled Mico Leão (Golden Tamarin).

Pianist and composer Luiz Simas. Pianist and composer Luiz Simas 1) Manhã na Praia (Morning on the Beach) — On many spots along the coast of Brazil the Atlantic Forest comes right to the beach. I spent most of my summers in my family's summer house near Mangaratiba, south of Rio, and we used to go to beaches where indeed the forest touched the water. These were very quiet, calm beaches, with pitanga (small red fruits) trees, crabs, huge boulders where my friends and I could swim, play hide and seek, picnic and mostly have a wonderful time.

2) Trilha na Serra (Mountain Trail) — Rio is surrounded by mountains which are covered by a section of the Atlantic Forest, the glorious Tijuca Forest National Park. The park is only a half hour bus ride from Ipanema, where I lived, so we used to go there for walks and hikes. This second Luiz Simas in performance. Luiz Simas in performance movement evokes coming back through those trails, running as fast as we could (easy to do when it's on the way down!), being careful not to fall and looking forward to swimming in the ocean when we arrived back home.

3) Mico Leão (Golden Tamarin) — I chose to divide the third movement in two parts, because it is made of two parts with very different moods. I only thought of the main title of the suite (Mata Atlântica) after I had already composed the first two movements. Therefore, the third movement is the only one on which the music was really initially inspired by the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Mata Atlântica Piano Suite CD cover. Mata Atlântica Piano Suite The first half of that movement starts with very fast scales and jumps, reminiscent of the playful behavior of tamarin monkeys in that part of the forest that covers the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, so I entitled it Mico Leão (Golden Tamarin).

To tell you the truth, I don't think I ever saw a Golden Tamarin in the wild (I did see them in Rio's zoo) – they're quite rare – , but I've seen many other kinds of tamarin monkeys in the forests of Rio. In any case, they're really beautiful and I love that name, because it evokes a mix of two such extremely different animals: a powerful lion and a diminutive tamarind monkey (the literal translation from Portuguese is actually 'Lion Tamarin,' not it's official English name 'Golden Tamarin'). The second half of the movement evokes a quick strong burst of summer rain, quickly followed by a period of calm.

Here's a sneak preview of Mico Leão (Golden Tamarin), the third movement from Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) Piano Suite. (If you don't see the audio player below, please update your browser. The file might take 30 seconds or more to load, depending on the speed of your internet connection and CPU.)

Photos courtesy of Luiz Simas