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Maria Bethania portrait This is the second page of a comprehensive discography of Brazilian MPB diva Maria Bethania, one of the titans of modern Brazilian pop. This page covers her career from 1980 to the present, including reviews of her various best-of collections. More information about her early work, can be found on the first discography page.

Maria Bethania: 1980 - Present

Maria Bethania "Talisma" (Philips, 1980)
VERY nice, lyrical, soft-edged album. The arrangements are refreshingly understated and reserved, and Bethania is playing it cool, too. For many years, this one was long out of print, which is a real shame, since it's one of her best albums, and one of the last good ones she did for many, many years. With predictably groovy guest appearances by Caetano and Gilberto Gil, as well as an early Marina Lima composition, and a track by samba doyenne, Dona Yvonne Lara. Recommended.

Maria Bethania/Joao Gilberto/Caetano Veloso/Gilberto Gil "Brasil" (Philips, 1981)
A beautiful album, which unites two generations of great Brazilian artists. Caetano Veloso pitches in on this rapturously understated Joao Gilberto bossa nova album, which also features Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethania. Very listenable and highly recommended. (Reissued on CD along with Joao Gilberto's Amoroso.)

Maria Bethania "Alteza" (Philips, 1981)
Following in the footsteps of slick, solid albums like Alibi and Mel, this hews closer to a yuppie soul/pop sound, heavy on the strings, keyboards and overly-slick electric guitar. Not as outlandishly sappy as her later albums, but still probably too slow and too drippy for the casual listener. "Purificar O Subae," an upbeat, frevo-flavored Caetano Veloso composition, featuring guest vocals by Caetano and Gilberto Gil, is quite nice.

Maria Bethania "Nossos Momentos" (Philips, 1982)
A solid, technically perfect concert album, with musical direction by Gilberto Gil. Bethania works the crowd like a pro, tossing off smooth between-song patter, no-nonsense vocals and plenty of showy, growling enunciation. The arrangements sometimes get a bit overwrought, but then again that's kind of the point. The performances are tightly edited together on this album, so that the pace never falters. A class act, though a bit slick and businesslike.

Maria Bethania "Ciclo" (Philips, 1983)

Maria Bethania "A Beira E O Mar" (Verve, 1984)

Maria Bethania "Palco Iluminado" (PolyGram, 1985)

Maria Bethania "Dezembros" (RCA, 1986)
A strangely bloodless album. Bethania herself sounds bored and detached, while the arrangements are predominantly a mix of quiet storm-y synths and strings, which hang limply in the air. This is listenable, but completely unexciting. Later reissued (with extra tracks) as Anos Dourados.

Maria Bethania "Maria" (RCA-BMG, 1988)
A decent synthpop-jazz studio album, featuring a soft French chanson-styled duet with Jeanne Moreau, as well as guest appearances by Gal Costa and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Several tracks are drekky, though many are fairly good. By and large, the duets are the best material -- the Iris/Kardum label reissue (a French edition) features four extra tracks, including a collaboration with Milton Nascimento.

Maria Bethania "Memoria Da Pele" (Polygram Brasil, 1989/Verve, 1990)
Bethania's strong, forthright vocals are generally at odds with the cloying, muzak-y arrangements, much of which come, sadly, courtesy of cellist/arranger Jacques Morelenbaum. A wide range of composers suffer under the breezy, tinkly production, though a couple of tracks rise up from the fluff, including the Jose Galhardo tango, "Confesso," and Chico Buarque's "A Mais Bonito." Not my cup of tea -- almost, but not quite.

Maria Bethania "Cancoes E Momentos" (Ariola, 1991)

Maria Bethania "Canto Do Paje (Song Of The Shaman)" (Polygram, 1990/Verve, 1991)
Two samba tracks bookend this set, in which she largely veers away from the tropicalia composers and explores instead sultry blues ballads. Appropriately, Nina Simone is a guest on one track, but Bethania shines on the midnight-at-the-bar ballad, "Logrador." A few mildly cloying moments, but on the whole a rather solid album.

Maria Bethania "Olho D'Agua" (Polygram, 1992)

Maria Bethania "As Cancoes Que Voce Fez Pra Mim" (Philips, 1994)
A tribute to songwriter Roberto Carlos, sung in Portuguese with dreadfully cheesy synths-and-strings. As usual, Bethania's voice is nice, but the arrangements leave much to be desired.

Maria Bethania "Los Canciones Que Tu Hisiste Para Mi" (Philips, 1994)
The same Roberto Carlos tribute, but sung in Spanish.

Maria Bethania "Anos Dourados" (Iris Musique, 1994)
This is actually a re-release of the Dezembros album, with a few extras tracks thrown in for good measure...

Maria Bethania "Maria Bethania Ao Vivo" (Mercury-Polygram, 1995)
Despite a horrific opening salvo of bombastic, ickily-orchestrated synth-pop, this live album does move on to produce a few gentler moments... but then it slides back into the icky stuff. Not entirely my bag, but there are some decent tracks on here. Overall, though, this is too slick, too glitzy and too Kenny G-ed out.

Maria Bethania "Sonho Impossivel" (Polydor Globo, 1996)

Maria Bethania "Ambar" (EMI Brasil, 1996; Capitol/Metro Blue, 1997)
Recorded in Los Angeles and London, this is a little on the slick side, though not entirely drekky. Glitzy backup vocals by Zap Mama (track #3) and syrupy string arrangements ruin this for me, but it certainly could be worse. A nice duet with Chico Buarque lightens things up a bit; as ever, his voice is effortlessly relaxed and calming.

Maria Bethania "Acervo Especial, v.1" (BMG Brazil, 1997)

Maria Bethania "Imitacao Da Vida - 1996 Concert" (EMI, 1997)
Two CD set.

Maria Bethania "Diamante Verdadeiro" (BMG, 1999)

Maria Bethania "A Forca Que Nunca Seca" (BMG, 1999)
A fairly restrained, acoustically-oriented studio album, which is largely free of the intrusive synths that flooded her albums of the '80 and '90s... Still, while this is one of her more tasteful, less bombastic efforts in recent years, it's also unsurprising and a bit overly florid... If you're generally not on Bethania's wavelength, this one won't do much to bring you on board.

Maria Bethania "Maricotinha" (BMG, 2001)

Maria Bethania "Maricotinha Ao Vivo" (Biscoito Fino, 2002)
Bethania's first album for the fledgling Brazilian indie label, Biscoito Fino, leans on one of her great strong points, her phenomenal ability as a live performer. This lavishly packaged 2-CD set features a sweeping array of material by songwriters as diverse as MPB standardbearers Gilberto Gil, Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque and Djavan to old-fashioned samba and bossa songsmiths including Dorival Caymmi, Ze Keti and Carlos Lyra. Younger artists like rockers Chico Cesar, Lenine and Adriana Calcanhoto are also represented, along with numerous lesser-known composers. Bethania's longtime guitarist Jaime Alem leads the band and helps sculpt the sound... Bethania's fans will certainly not be disappointed.

Maria Bethania "Canticos Preces Suplicas A Senhora Dos Jardins Do Ceu" (Biscoito Fino, 2003)
A gentle and reverential set of songs dedicated to the Virgin Mary, all seen through a Brazilian filter. The repertoire includes religious standards such as Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" and J.S. Bach's "Magnificat," as well as numerous songs in the public domain, some given new arrangements by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and others in Bethania's personal sphere. I hadn't anticipated being as drawn in by this album as I ultimately was -- there's something quite compact and focussed about the project that stands in contrast to her usual sexual/romantic/spiritual explorations. Plus, how often do you get to hear Bethania singing above a large church choir (as she does on two brief tracks. Nice record (with classy graphic design, as well, by the way...) recommended!

Maria Bethania "Perfil" (Universal, 2004)
I'm not sure if this is a new album, or a best-of collection... Many song titles are older tunes, but they may be new recordings. Since I haven't seen an actual copy of the album, I can't say for sure. I'll keep ya posted.

Maria Bethania "Brasileirinho" (Biscoito Fino, 2004)

Maria Bethania "Que Falta Voce Me Faz" (Biscoito Fino, 2005)
A tribute to Vinicius De Moraes...

Maria Bethania "Pirata" (Biscoito Fino, 2005)

Maria Bethania "Mar De Sophia" (Biscoito Fino, 2006)

Maria Bethania "Sings The Vinicus De Moraes Songbook" (DRG, 2006)

Maria Bethania "Dentro Do Mar Tem Rio" (Biscoito Fino, 2007)

Maria Bethania "Dentro Do Mar Tem Rio" (DVD) (Biscoito Fino, 2007)

Maria Bethania "Pedrinha Da Aruanda/Bem De Perto" (DVD) (Biscoito Fino, 2007)
This DVD release includes two films about Maria Bethania, Pedrinha Da Aruanda, directed by Andrucha Waddington and Bem De Perto by Julio Bressane and Eduardo Escorel.

Maria Bethania & Omara Portuondo "Omara Portuondo & Maria Bethania" (Biscoito Fino, 2008)

Maria Bethania "Encanteria" (DRG/Quitanda, 2005/2009)

Maria Bethania "Tua" (Biscoito Fino, 2005/2009)


Maria Bethania "Portfolio" (EMI, 1998)
A three-disc box set of early recordings from 1968-70. Includes CD-size reproductions of three albums: Recital Na Boite Barroco (1968), Maria Bethania (1969), and Maria Bethania Ao Vivo (1970) (See reviews above.)

Maria Bethania "Palco Iluminado" (Philips, 1985)
A best-of mainly covering the 1970's, with one track from her 1966 debut and some early '80s tracks as well. Some of this is a bit off the beaten track.

Maria Bethania/Various Artists "Bethania, Mano Caetano & Amigos" (Philips, 1985)
An oddly conceived kinda double best-of, although with strong song selection. Mainly featuring duets with other MPB superstars-- Gal Costa, Alcione, Chico Buarque, etc.-- though only two tracks where brother and sister actually sing together.

Maria Bethania "Personalidade" (Philips, 1987) (LP)
An poorly assembled best-of, especially unfortunate since it's one of the most common ones on the market. Has two stunning tracks off the Alibi album ("Sonho Meu," and "Calice"), and a few nice tracks selected from between 1973-1985, but god! is there a lot of dreck on here! The second half of the album is largely an in-depth exploration of cheesy disco-era MOR production. A misleading retrospective which exaggerates her more melodramatic tendencies.

Maria Bethania "Simplemente O Melhor De Maria Bethania" (Philips, 1988)
Originally a 2-LP best-of, this collection ably sums up her first stint with Philips records, starting out in 1971 and ending in 1985... Includes an inordinate number of tunes by Luis Gonzaga, Jr. (aka "Gonzaguinha"), a couple by Caetano Veloso, and a ton by Chico Buarque. Includes about half the songs previously collected on the Palco Iluminado LP.

Maria Bethania "Brincar De Viver" (Polydor Globo, 1996)
A best-of that also includes a couple of tracks off the 1976 Doces Barbaros concert album.

Maria Bethania "Bethania Canta Caetano" (Globo/Polydor, 1997)
I don't think a day has gone by in the last thirty years when Maria Bethania hasn't at least hummed a little something written by her big brother, Caetano Veloso... This disc collects a wide swath of her versions, and having the tracks gathered together in one place highlights the difference between their styles -- where Caetano is graceful and poetic, Bethania is declarative and forceful. Personally, I prefer Caetano's approach, but this is a a good representation of Bethania's. This set sticks pretty close to her later interpretations (and misses out on some lovely earlier recordings); for my money, the highlight is the lovely, country-tinged "Mel," from the 1979 album of the same name. You'd probably be better off getting the album itself, but this may still be worth checking out.

Maria Bethania "Millennium" (Philips, 1998)

Maria Bethania "Focus: O Essencial De Maria Bethania" (BMG, 1999)

Maria Bethania "Serie Bis" (EMI, 2000)
Two CD set.

Maria Bethania "Serie Sem Limite" (Philips/Universal, 2001)
A nice 2-CD set spanning her Philips years... Not much to complain about here, especially at the very affordable budget price. Recommended.

Maria Bethania "A Interprete" (Universal, 2001)
A very pleasant, very listenable retrospective that gracefully avoids the bombast and stridency that frequently define Bethania's sound. This is a set of mellower, prettier songs, drawn from various albums recorded from 1971-1994, much of it fairly off the beaten track. If you've found Bethania's style to be kind of hard to get into, give this disc a try... It may surprise you!

Maria Bethania "The Definitive Collection" (Wrasse, 2003)
An excellent 22-song best-of which is well programmed and covers a lot of turf. It does give you a good sense of the range of Bethania's work, from the incandescent and light, to the weighty and portentious. But for a single-disc introduction to her work, this disc is pretty hard to beat. Recommended!

Maria Bethania "Retratos" (EMI, 2004)

Videos & Film

Maria Bethania/Various Artists "Saravah" (DVD) (Fremeaux, 2005)

Maria Bethania/Various Artists "Mulher 80" (DVD) (1980)
A concert video featuring Gal Costa, Fafa De Belem, Maria Bethania, Elis Regina and Simone.

Maria Bethania/Various Artists "Musica E Perfume" (DVD) (2006)
A concert show with guest appearances from Chico Buarque, Nana Caymmi, Gilberto Gil, Miucha and Caetano Veloso...

Maria Bethania "Maricotinha Ao Vivo (DVD)" (Biscoito Fino, 2002)
It's a delight to see Bethania performing live, stringing songs and sentiments together like tapestry beads. Well into her ripe and magesterial middle age, Bethania is a commanding dramatic presence, impassioned and playful in her presentation of the rich ironic eroticism of Brazilian popular song. This lavish performance features a sweeping array of material by songwriters as diverse as MPB standardbearers Gilberto Gil, Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque and Djavan to old-fashioned samba and bossa songsmiths including Dorival Caymmi, Ze Keti and Carlos Lyra. Younger artists like rockers Chico Cesar, Lenine and Adriana Calcanhoto are also represented, along with numerous lesser-known composers and poets. Bethania's longtime guitarist Jaime Alem leads the band and helps sculpt the sound, which is at times laid on a bit thick, but easier to handle in a visual format than on record. The DVD includes subtitles in English, French and Spanish, as well as song tablatures for any musicians out there capable of following chord progressions such as F#m7(b5) / B7(#9) / E7(sus4)... etc. I sure wish they'd been making MPB videos like this since the old days -- it'd be great to see the group from Bahia back in their youth as well. Yet even in her fifties, Maria Bethania is still in her prime!

Maria Bethania "Brasileirinho Ao Vivo" (DVD) (Biscoito Fino, 2006)

Maria Bethania "Tempo Tempo Tempo Tempo" (DVD) (DRG, 2006)

Maria Bethania "Pedrinha De Aruanda" (DVD) (2007)

Maria Bethania & Omara Portuondo "Omara Portuondo & Maria Bethania" (DVD & CD) (Biscoito Fino, 2007)

Maria Bethania & Omara Portuondo "Ao Vivo" (DVD) (Biscoito Fino, 2009)


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