Villa-Lobos Piano Works

A valuable series that has yet to catch fire

Author: 
Bryce Morrison

Villa-Lobos Piano Works

  • Bachianas brasileiras No. 4

The fourth volume of Sonia Rubinsky’s valuable cycle presents a cross-section from the random genius of Villa-Lobos’s piano music. Multi-coloured and textured, his Aladdin’s cave of ideas came to him willy-nilly becoming public property long before it was subjected to critical scrutiny. Villa-Lobos was in a sense the reverse of, say, Ravel; certainly no one could accuse him of being overly fastidious. Sadly, Rubinsky, for all her quality, lacks the sort of compulsion that can make such music spring alive. And whether in the Simple Collection’s ‘Valsa Mistica’ (a sort of halfway house between Liszt’s Valses oubliées and the enchanted cabaret world of Bill Evans’s take on the love theme from Alex North’s film theme, Spartacus), or in the sophisticated undertow to the early and outwardly naive Valsa Romântica, her playing is more dutiful than robust. Still, there is much to enjoy in the charming tale of Francette et Piá, where Rubinsky is joined by Tatjana Rankovich, and in the more advanced impressionistic idiom of A Fiandeira (‘The Spinner’). The recording, like the playing, lacks edge and vibrancy.

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