Villa-Lobos Piano Works, Vol 2
Joanna Brzezin´ska’s first disc of Villa-Lobos (7/07) focused on the childlike (but by no means childish) cycle A prole do bebê, finding darker undertows in the music than most. For the second instalment she has turned to three of his most important and enduring piano scores: the original piano version of Bachiana brasileira No 4 (completed in 1939 but not orchestrated until 1941), Ciclo brasileiro (1936) and the best of them all, Rudepoêma (1921-26). The programme gives Brzezin´ska ample scope to display the refined touch evident in Vol 2 as well as greater depth and power, plus a sense of structure even in Villa-Lobos’s most unbuttoned fantasies. In Rudepoêma, she perhaps lacks the truly volcanic power that the work’s finest exponents brought to its performances – Rubinstein, its dedicatee, not least. Her way of playing suits Bachiana No 4 and Ciclo brasileiro rather better and here she knits both cycles together very nicely. Petchersky’s 20-year-old recording of both arguably has the edge in performance quality but Claves’ sound more than compensates. It is heartening that Ciclo is given here in full rather than just one or two of its numbers.
The two smaller sets are presented beautifully, full of charm although the Danças caracteristicas africanas (1915, but published separately as Opp 47, 57 and 65) could cope with a dash more verve. The tiny As três Marias (1939), inspired by a folk story where three young girls were transfigured into stars after their deaths, do look back briefly to Vol 1 but are an unexpected delight and make up a thoroughly enjoyable recital.