Villa-Lobos Piano Works, Vol 8
With Volume 8 of the piano music of Villa- Lobos, Sonia Rubinsky reaches a triumphant end to a long, complex and luxuriant journey. And to an even greater extent than in the earlier issues she relishes every twist and turn of Brazil’s ever-varied genius, playing with an enviable virtuosity, warmth and affection. And here, in a disc that includes five world-premiere recordings, she illustrates ideally her chosen composer’s statement of intent, namely his wish to subsume the widest variety of influences into a grateful sense of national identity and his burning love of his native Brazil. Volume 8 extends Volume 5 by completing the Guia prático, a 137- piece tribute to Villa-Lobos’s love of children; music where early innocence is recalled through sophisticated adult eyes and ears. How Rubinsky relishes the alternately spry and gracious waltz of “Constancia”, the charm of “Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu”, or the syncopated dance rhythms, piquantly harmonised, of Nos 95 and 105. The two “Infantil” Suites elaborate the mix into a near- Scriabinesque etude in “No Balanco” and a melody peppered with rapid bouncing staccatos in “Allegretto” (Second Suite, No 3). Ibericarabe (transcribed by Lucília Guimarães Villa-Lobos, the composer’s first wife) is more familiar territory with sumptuously deployed melody wreathed round in intricate figuration, and there is much, much more to enjoy, ponder over and occasionally reject (Villa-Lobos’s vast output led to inevitable unevenness). This is a magnificent conclusion to a formidable undertaking, recorded in ideal sound. And now, although Rubinsky may well wish for a break from Brazil, it would be wonderful to hear her in Camargo Guarnieri (Brazil’s second most prominent composer). How can she resist the 50 Ponteios for a start?