Maria Monda

December 22, 2020

Mother Nature’s Daughters

Listening Post 283. Civilizations through the ages have paid homage to the Earth, but today planet reverence at best coexists with environmental abuse. And while the debut album by the Portuguese trio Maria Monda sounds like traditional wisdom and makes no mention of global warming, its very restraint makes a powerful, modern case for protecting Mother Nature. Sofia Adriana Portugal, Susana Quaresma and Tânia Cardoso met at Lisbon’s School of Theatre and Film (formerly the National Conservatory) and co-founded Monda Teatro-Música, an artist collective that extends the school’s collaborative and performing atmosphere into post-graduate life. Both the co-op and their group name are inspired by the verb mondar—to pare or weed, as in arranging ideal conditions for creation, be it biological or artistic. The women have diverse roots in classical music, Lusophone song, fado and theater; the album’s 10 tracks are polyphonic reinterpretations of works by seminal Portuguese and Brazilian poets and composers, including Fernando Pessoa, Zeca Afonso, Almada Negreiros, Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Milton Nascimento. Album themes range from love and mystery to nostalgia and childhood, but the songs are suffused with the natural world—land and sky, sun and moon, mountain and river, bird and flower. O Cio da Terra (The Earth in Heat, video 1) conveys the taste of nature’s bounty, while Menino d’Oiro (Golden Boy, video 2) evokes the bounty of the womb. Group member Portugal animates Ser Gentia (Be Pagan, Apart, video 3) with wordplay that borders on mythology. A bittersweet anthem of letting go, Olha Maria (Look Maria, video 4) is from Buarque’s landmark 1971 album Construção, and Ó Sino da Minha Aldeia (O Bell of My Village, video 5) breathes saudade without using the term. With sharp glimpses and penetrating study, with timeless imagery and fresh sensitivity, Maria Monda paints a lush soundscape in Mother Nature’s true colors. (Sons Vadios)

Maria Monda
Sofia Adriana Portugal: Vocals, percussion
Susana Quaresma: Vocals, percussion
Tânia Cardoso: Vocals, percussion, sound environments
Tiago Manuel Soares: Percussion
David Leão: Flutes
Rui Ferreira: Accordion, percussion, musical production
José Manuel David: Horn, tuba
Ricardo Coelho: Marimba
Monda Teatro-Música: Executive Production


O Cio da Terra / The Earth in Heat
Lyrics: Chico Buarque/Music: Milton Nascimento

(From the Portuguese lyrics)
Thresh the wheat/Collect each kernel
Forge with wheat, the miracle of bread/And fill yourself

Cut the sugarcane/Collect the juice
Extract the sweetness/And smear yourself with honey

Caress the Earth/To know its desires
The earth in heat — the ideal season/And fertilize the ground


Menino d’Oiro / Golden Boy
Lyrics & Music: José Afonso

My boy is of gold/Fine gold
I don’t mind if he is small/I don’t mind if he’s a baby
He’s made of gold/Soft gold
I will take you in my sailing ship/I will take you in my sailing ship

Come birds in the sky/Land gently
On my boy’s shoulders/My boy’s shoulders

Come with me, come/I’m not going alone
I’ll take my boy on my sled/I take my boy on my sled

How many sweet dreams/Before you are at ease?
Anxious child, don’t be afraid/Anxious child, don’t be afraid

Wherever you go in your dreams/I want to go with you
Golden boy, I am your friend/Golden boy, I am your friend

Come high mountains/Or sea breezes
My boy was born to love/My boy was born to love

Come with me, come/I’m not going alone
I’ll take my boy on my sled/I’ll take my boy on my sled


Ser Gentia / Be Pagan, Apart
Lyrics: Sofia Adriana Portugal/Music: Rodrigo Crespo

To be a person/A pagan, apart
Love-swim naked, biting the moon
Break the dishes in the cupboard/Between your teeth
Serenade the Earth/Without disturbing continents
Burden me with few things/Spare me those of little importance
Save what matters little/And all that cannot be borne
Beg truth from door to door/So that soon you will unsettle me
A half-broken and crooked truth/Regretfully holds the sun by a thread
Spin it so that time moves forward
Be kind, that’s not too much/I live apart from what I would hold and regret
Be a pagan/I’m doing what I can


Olha Maria / Look Maria
Lyrics: Chico Buarque, Vinícius de Moraes/Music: Antônio Carlos Jobim

Look, Maria/I really loved you
I made you prey/To my poetry
But today, Maria/To my surprise
To my sorrow/You need to leave

Go, Maria/You look so beautiful
Why are you so worried/To leave me
I feel, Maria/As if you are just visiting
Your body is moving/As if you want to dance

Go, Maria/You are so transparent
The moon is calling you/Because you are so much a woman
Blaze, Maria/In the flame of the moon
Gypsy Maria/Maria tide

Go, singing/Maria take flight
Against the wind/Playing, sleeping
On a mountaintop/In an empty field
On a riverbed/In the arms of the sea

Go, find joy/That’s life, Maria
Don’t let a day pass/I won’t stop you
Run, Maria/Life doesn’t wait
It’s like a springtime/You can’t miss it

Come on, Maria/I would only have
My agony/To offer you


Ó Sino da Minha Aldeia / The Bell of My Village
Poem: Fernando Pessoa/Music: Rodrigo Crespo

O bell of my village/Doleful in the calm afternoon
Every chime of yours/Resonates in my heart

And your sound is so slow/Just as life is sad
That already the first blow/Carries its repeated sound

The closer you are to me/When I pass, always wandering
You are to me like a dream/Sounding in my distant soul

With each stroke of yours/Vibrant in the open sky
The past feels farther away/And the longing closer


1 Comment

  1. Erica Rogers

    Very nnice blog you have here


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