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Bryce Morrison
Gramophone, April 2009

The triumphant concluding volume of a remarkable Brazilian musical journey

With Volume 8 of the piano music of Villa-Lobos, Sonia Rubinsky reaches a triumphant end to a long, complex and luxuriant journey. And to an even greater extent than in the earlier issues she relishes every twist and turn of Brazil’s ever-varied genius, playing with an enviable virtuosity, warmth and affection. And here, in a disc that includes five world-premiere recordings, she illustrates ideally her chosen composer’s statement of intent, namely his wish to subsume the widest variety of influences into a grateful sense of national identity and his burning love of his native Brazil. Volume 8 extends Volume 5 by completing the Guia prático, a 137-piece tribute to Villa-Lobos’s love of children; music where early innocence is recalled through sophisticated adult eyes and ears. How Rubinsky relishes the alternately spry and gracious waltz of “Constancia”, the charm of “Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu”, or the syncopated dance rhythms, piquantly harmonised, of Nos 95 and 105. The two “Infantil” Suites elaborate the mix into a near—Scriabinesque etude in “No Balanco” and a melody peppered with rapid bouncing staccatos in “Allegretto” (Second Suite, No 3). lbericarabe (transcribed by Ludlia Guimaraes Villa-Lobos, the composer’s first wife) is more familiar territory with sumptuously deployed melody wreathed round in intricate figuration, and there is much, much more to enjoy, ponder over and occasionally reject (Villa-Lobos’s vast output led to inevitable unevenness). This is a magnificent conclusion to a formidable undertaking, recorded in ideal sound.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2008

Sadly this eighth volume concludes the piano works of Villa-Lobos, one of the most engaging cycles of South American music I have encountered. Largely self-taught as a composer, he was musically a free-spirit who assimilated the West European style on an extended period living in Paris. On his return to his native Brazil he worked to establish a national musical idiom, becoming a prolific composer in every genre, his substantial output for solo piano spanning much of his life. This final volume concentrates on his large number of works inspired by or written for children. Central to this sector of his output was the compilation of children’s melodies gathered in the eleven albums of Guia Pratico, the last two completing the set begun on volume 5 of this series. The Suite Infantile containstwo works built from short pieces often carrying descriptive titles.Three salon pieces, Ibericarabe, Gavota-Choro and Valsinha Brasileira, together with excerpts from the first volume of Guia Pratico - 137 Traditional Children’s Songs complete the issue. The latter work uses many permutations of performer and is here included for its use of songs that included the piano. The Brazilian-born pianist, Sonia Rubinsky, has throughout been the unfailing servant of the music, easily handling the more exacting moments—and there have been plenty—while at the same time playing the simple music for children with an unassuming artistry and deep affection. She has enjoyed in these French made recordings a sound that has sparkled in the right hand, and has provided the utmost clarity.

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