VILLA-LOBOS Complete Solo Piano Works Vol 3
This is the first disc of Marcelo Bratke’s Villa-Lobos survey to have come my way (previous instalments included Ciclo brasileiro, Cirandas and Bachiana Brasileira No 4). Bratke is no stranger to this repertoire, having recorded the Prole do bebê Suite No 1 and Carnaval das crianças brasileiras among other works for Olympia’s Explorer Series (2/95 – nla). Bratke’s new accounts are consistently slower by handfuls of seconds, though given that only one of the 38 tracks runs past three minutes in duration, this amounts often to 10 per cent of the playing time. There is a touch more excitement in his Olympia accounts, too – for instance Carnaval’s finale – but these new accounts are cultured, catching the gentle theme of childhood innocence nicely. Quartz’s sound is superb, a match for or finer than their many rivals in a crowded field, the selection of recent comparisons listed below a fraction of those currently available.
As a Brazilian, the music is in his blood and his interpretations show a refinement of touch even if he cannot quite match Freire (in Carnaval das crianças) or Hamelin (who sounds rushed in Prole do bebê) for virtuosity. On the evidence of this disc alone he may well surpass Rubinsky for the complete piano music – he edges her and Halász in the delightful Francette et Pià. I prefer the fleeter Brzezinska, despite duller sound, and Hamelin in As três Marias, and Dipold in Prole do bebê. Otherwise, the varied couplings will drive choices. All are of high quality, as is Bratke’s.