My VIOLA is a world of possibilities.
Valente's approach sometimes delicate, other times dramatically rough, reconciles the accuracy of classical music, the challenge of improvisation and the paramount energy of rock with the spoken word of Marta Bernardes, being the key to an intimate exploration between words and music.
António Branco, Diário do Alentejo.
Serpente Infinita, from violist (electric and eclectic) José Valente: amazing vanguard work that remembers Ana Hatherly, the great Portuguese modernist poet, calligrapher and visual artist.
Nuno Rogeiro, revista Sábado
Picture by Pedro Esteves during the premiere of Trégua.
Considered one of the most innovative violists of his generation, José Valente continues to develop an intense musical activity defined by the irreverence, contemporaneity and virtuosity of his playing and composing. Since his return from New York, the awarded violist has been exploring the limits of his instrument through the symbiosis of diverse musical styles, rarely associated with the traditional repertoire for viola, establishing consequently a unique musical voice.
It isn’t a surprise that José Valente insists in an eclectic musical point of view throughout his work. After a decade away from his homeland (Portugal), a time in which he worked with several different musicians and styles such as the Acies Streichquartett (founding member), Dave Douglas, Paquito d’Rivera – who invited José to be soloist at the world famous Carnegie Hall – ,Hank Roberts or Don Bryon, he continued to explore the combination of musical genres and artistic disciplines in both international projects: the Human Evolution project with Indian sitar player Shakir Khan and Spanish pianist Alberto Conde; and national projects: Valente Maio duo with violinist Manuel Maio; Viola Popular with João Diogo Leitão playing the braguesa guitar and Tiago Manuel Soares playing Portuguese percussion and drums. Or within his research for his PhD in Contemporary Art at the Royal College for the Arts at the University of Coimbra that he finished by unanimous decision with distinction. And the continuing successful attempts to communicate with other art forms, such as painting, architecture, film and literature or poetry, revealed with projects such as PULSO (spoken word) with Marta Bernardes or the children’s show Os Figos são para quem passa premiered and commissioned by the São Luiz Theater, also created together with Marta Bernardes.
This conviviality of artistic possibilities has also rewarded the musician from Porto with various distinctions and experiences: in 2012 he received The Hannah S. and Samuel A. Cohn Memorial Foundation Endowed Fellowship, after premiering his piece Invasão (Invasion) at the Djerassi Residency Artists Program in California, USA; in 2009 José was awarded with a honorary mention at the Prémio de Composição Lopes Graça; in 2015 he toured Cyprus with the contemporary ballet Unconnected that he created together with choreographer Mafalda Deville and visual artist Israel Pimenta; in 2017 he toured India, doing solo concerts and performing his children’s show The Fabulous Fables conceived together with visual artist and actress Marta Bernardes; in 2018 he was commissioned by RTP (Portuguese national TV station) to compose the obligatory piece for viola for the 32nd edition of Prémio Jovens Músicos, named Passaporte; in 2019 he composed and recorded Embalo para Bernardo, for the album The Wake of an Artist, an homage to Bernardo Sassetti by Alberto Conde's Iberian Roots Trio; most recently José Valente was awarded with the Prémio Carlos Paredes 2019 for his album Serpente Infinita. And numerous concerts in festivals and worldwide venues as well: Festival Imaxinasons (Spain), Festival Tremor, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Teatro Maria Matos, Fundação Serralves, Bookaroo Festival (Dehli, India), Union Square Park (New York), Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center (New York), Suoni Mobile Festival (Italy), Festival Bons Sons, among others.
In conclusion, José Valente proposes in his concerts and with his pieces an option in which the viola is the center of the creative opportunity, defying the boundaries between style/audience/stage that have been perpetuated throughout the history of music.
José Valente plays a viola by Alceste Bulfari. After his mother’s suggestion he decided to call his instrument Presença (presence).
José Valente either resolutely enters into the realm of contemporary music, in its more classical or sophisticated substance (yes, there are occasions that we think of Paganinni and Shostakovich, depending the performance or composition’s accent), either interiorizes characteristics from other musical styles.
Rui Eduardo Paes, jazz.pt
This is what makes this record something of essential listening although it was released late 2018.
Duarte Fortuna, Threshold Magazine.