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Dean Frey
The Villa-Lobos Magazine, June 2010

For the third disc, the team of Rubinsky, Silver & Kraft were once again recording at Grace Church in Toronto, this time in September of 2000. The project was on a roll. This time the standout work was Choros #05 “Alma Brasileira”. Early works share the disc with more substantial pieces like the 1936 Ciclo Brasileira. A number of pieces from volume 3 were featured at the 1922 Semana de Arte Moderna in Sao Paulo, and caused quite a stir. The African dances and the second piece from Suite Floral might seem a bit tame today, though emotions ran high that week in Sao Paulo. Certainly Villa-Lobos had written more modernist works by 1922. By the way, Suite Floral was a favourite of Arthur Rubinstein, and he programmed the final piece, Alegia na Horta, in hundreds of concerts over the years.

One of the most interesting things about this disc, though, is the inclusion of arrangements for piano of two of Villa’s greatest works: the 1st Choros for guitar, and the 2nd Choros, originally written for flute and clarinet. The transcription of the 1st Choros is by Odmar Amaral Gurgel, while Villa-Lobos himself came up with the piano version of the 2nd Choros. The great thing about Rubinsky’s series is that while the major works are completely solid, she keeps coming up with nearly unknown pieces (including some world recording premieres later in the series) to keep Villa-Lobos super-fans interested.

The third disc had for its cover one of my favourite Brazilian paintings, Cafe (1935) by Candido Portinari. This was an excellent match in subject matter and time period with the Ciclo Brasileira.

Bryce Marrison
Gramophone, January 2009

Invaluable…bringing Villa-Lobos to haunting and unforgettable life.

Chang Tou Liang
The Flying Inkpot, January 2009

The strengths of Villa-Lobos lie in his simplicity and childlike music. No matter how complex and noisy the music or orchestration gets, the melodies within him never cease to flow…Naxos’ edition of Villa-Lobos’ piano music has reached its fourth volume. Thus far, Brazilian pianist Sonia Rubinsky has chosen to spread out the goodies so that major and minor works are heard alongside for contrast…Rubinsky is able to readily switch modes—from virtuoso, to minstrel, to child charmer. It is this versatility of composer (and pianist) that makes such complete volumes of music—however uneven or variable—such a joy to discover and behold. At Naxos super-bargain asking price, the pleasure is more than multiplied.

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