David's Review Corner
, October 2007
Naxos describe their sixth volume in the complete piano works of Villa-Lobos as arguably the most diverse sample of his musical language and techniques. That rather circumvents the fact that he was a largely self-taught composer whose language was that of others and was mainly derived from the time spent in Paris as a young man. The years that followed found him grafting onto French Impressionism the musical voice of South America. That proved both a stimulus and a restriction in his creativity as he strove to include the idioms of his native Brazil. The music on the disc spans much of his compositional career, and apart from the final work, are all in the shape of cameos, more extended scores bringing together a series of cameos. It is music that aims to please, often with the composer doing little to develop his melodic idea. His love of children comes in many pieces, the most delightful being the six pieces that make up Petizada (The Little Brats) dating from 1912. Certainly my favourite track is the gently tinkling music of As Tres Marias, the three little girls called Mary having been inseparable on earth become three stars to represent the unity of mankind. His most extensive score for the keyboard was dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein, the name Rudepoema probably incorporating the name Rudi by which Villa Lobos knew the great pianist. It is not a score that leaps out and asks you to love it, but is regarded by many as a major keyboard work of the 20th century. The Brazilian-born, Sonia Rubinsky, understands the music in a way that few others achieve, her playing neat and well able to cope with the technical demands. For a sampler go to tracks 3 - 5, while the piano sound - of which I have had reservations in previous volumes - is now of a most pleasing quality.