The Ovalle Project

The Ovalle Project aims to revive composer Jayme Ovalle's compositional output for the piano – a collection of 24 opuses ranging from short and melancholic (Dois Retratos, Preludio, Lamuria, etc.) to lengthy show pieces (Legendas). This album was recorded in Los Angeles and released in December 2018.

Jayme Ovalle
(1894 – 1955)

Born in Belém (Brazil), Jayme Ovalle was an enigmatic artistic figure of the first half of the 20th century. A self-taught composer, he is mostly remembered today for his song Azulão, co-written with poet Manuel Bandeira. In addition to songs and a few miscellaneous instrumental works, Ovalle composed 24 opuses for piano.

Described by Vicente Salles as an “excellent improviser, a spontaneous creator of melodies”, Jayme Ovalle’s small musical output was mostly composed during the 1920s, but did not get written down and published until the mid-1930s.


Manuel Antonio Braune, a young pianist living in London, helped Ovalle translate his ideas to the piano for publication. In a 1934 London recital, Braune performed Ovalle’s third Legenda, Op. 23. A local critic wrote that it was deserving to figure alongside some of the best-known modern compositions.


I was mesmerized with this music from the moment I started plunking out some of those notes on the piano. Ovalle’s harmonies are rich, dense, and incredibly evocative. The chromaticism that permeates much of his music creates an uneasy motion often resolving on the very last chord with much satisfaction. The emotionally charged, yet delicate melodies, offer the perfect complement to the often muddy lower parts.

I think of Ovalle’s music as a perfect representation of the time he lived in, but also of his incredibly rich spiritual and artistic life.

- Andree-Ann Deschenes, 2018


Photo from the archive of Mariana Ovalle


This project was made possible with the help and continued support of Instituto Piano Brasileiro. Click here to learn more.

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[…] I was very, very moved in listening to you play. It was as if I was able to touch my father in a more intimate closer way then ever before. Since I was a little girl of three and a half when he died, I longed to somehow find him again. Your playing his music has magically opened a door in a way I could feel him closer more tangibly than ever before. You have a great gift in interpretation that you play so intuitively and with such passion that the listener cannot help but dive deeply into the feeling of the music. I thank you for the gift you’ve given to me […]

 - Mariana Ovalle, daughter of Jayme Ovalle

Jayme Ovalle is one of Brazil's great composers, but whose piano works are still virtually unknown. Andree-Ann Deschenes does an amazing work in bringing his compositions to life, a result of her careful research to find each lost score, and to create a sensitive and highly artistic rendition for each piece. Ovalle's dense harmonies and rich melodies find in her a perfect interpreter.

- Alexandre Dias, Instituto Piano Brasileiro