Too long absent from the studios, Cristina Ortiz returns with a heady brew from what the booklet-note so aptly calls that ’huge melting pot that is Brazil’. Throughout there is a touching and delightful sense of a pianist oblivious to anything beyond her relish and affection for her native music, for its alternating tears and laughter, its blueness and joie de vivre. Her way with Nepomuceno’s Prece is hauntingly sensitive to music so pensive and lost in reflection. And how impossible she makes it to resist the swaying, insinuating rhythm of Villa-Lobos’s A lenda do Caboclo or the way the Valsa da dor’s despondency so effortlessly crosses the borders between classical, popular and café music. Vianna, too, might well have joined Villa-Lobos who joyfully exclaimed: ‘My first theory of harmony was the map of Brazil.’ And if his Schumanniana (dedicated to Ortiz and given its first recording) fondly remembers a much beloved composer, the Prelúdio No 4 dissolves a memory of Chopin’s E major Nocturne, Op 62 No 2, in music as indelibly Brazilian as anything on this enchanting disc. Here, as Ortiz puts it, are ‘the sumptuous colours and perfumes of my beautiful Brazil’ and an ‘abraço [embrace] which grips my Brazilian soul’.
Intrada’s sound is close but vibrant, its presentation lavish, so I can only hope for further recordings. Brandão, Mignone and Guarnieri’s complete Ponteios all call out to be heard.