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Fanfare, July 2005

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Guy Rickards
Gramophone, May 2005

"This is a most encouraging issue. In the wake of BIS’s continuing series of Mozart Camargo Guarnieri’s symphonies, Naxos – knowing a good thing when they hear it – have collected his three piano concertos onto a single disc, the First being a premiere recording with neither of the others otherwise available. Indeed, there is little enough of Guarnieri’s bright and attractive music in the catalogue at all. Recording the appealing First Concerto highlighted some major textual issues with the score, as James Melo succinctly summarizes in the booklet. The manuscript being missing, the present recording was made from a reconstruction sourcing instrumental parts, two piano reductions (each with different endings!), a private recording conducted by the composer and revisions to the piano part from the 1960s. The result is completely convincing, however, a relatively compact, exciting concerto full of good tunes deftly orchestrated. Guarnieri’s personal style is already clearly audible (he was just 24 when he wrote it) though there are inevitable traces of influences: Villa-Lobos, Prokofiev, Bartok. The central Saudosamente even has a touch of Gershwin about it.

The Second (1946) and Third (1964) are more cosmopolitan in idiom but still decidedly Latin American through and through. In the former one can detect that Guarnieri’s frame of reference had widened to include Stravinsky and North and South American composers such as Copland (who described Guarnieri as “the most authentic composer on the continent”) and Ginastera; but whatever the stylistic mix he remained his own man. I doubt whether the Warsaw Philharmonic had played much of his music beforehand, but they respond with gusto and evident enjoyment to all three works, expertly directed by Thomas Conlin. Max Barros – brought up in Brazil – sounds completely comfortable and confident in the solo parts. Had this been released a few months earlier, it might have made the Editor’s Top 100 Budget CDs"

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