GNATTALI Alma brasiliera
The music of the hugely prolific Brazilian pianist, composer and arranger Radamés Gnattali (1906 88) is so fluent and attractive that it’s hard to believe that those very qualities worked against his being recognised as a serious artist in his lifetime and beyond. Not only that: Gnattali dared to make extensive use of Brazilian popular music and to write serious concert music for the guitar.
After exploring the piano and guitar music of composers such as Ginastera, Brouwer, Ponce, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and others, husband-and-wife duo Franz and Débora Halász have here chosen to place Gnattali’s Sonatina No 2 for guitar and piano in the context of some of his solo works for both instruments; cellist Wen-Sinn Yang also joins Franz Halász for a gracefully piquant Sonata for cello and guitar.
Brazilian-born Débora Halász brings a potent expressivity and obvious authority to the piano music, which as guitarist Fabio Zanon points out in his booklet-note bears the influence of Chopin and Bartók – though there are also echoes of Spanish masters such as Granados and Albéniz in Gnattali’s effortless blending of popular dance forms and classical salon music. Franz Halász is, however, equally at home in the solo guitar music; and if he and his partner successfully bring out the rich lyrical strain and ear for colour in Gnattali’s superb guitar-and-piano sonatina, his uncanny sensitivity to the simultaneous exigencies of both dance and song serve only to underscore the superior qualities of guitar pieces such as the titular Alma brasileira and Saudade.