BRASIL PIANO serves up a satisfying and substantial platter of Brazilian piano music from the late 19th century to the present day. While these pieces sport an eclectic array of influences from Massenet to boogie-woogie, what is most striking is the way these pieces by eight different composers cohere to form a distinctive and bewitching piano tradition characterized by sensuously languid melodies, swaying rhythms, and piquant harmonies.
At the heart of this tradition lies the figure of Francisco Mignone, who lived to be 90 and experimented with a variety of styles; among the seven selections of his music performed here, his highly original and hypnotically turning waltzes stand out. Alexandre Levy and Ernesto Nazareth transform the Cuban habañera into absorbing Brazilian tangos. It's no wonder that upon hearing this music, Darius Milhaud immediately became a life-long fan (as is evidenced by a number of his own compositions, including the perennial favorite 'Scaramouche'). Milhaud was especially fond of the music of Henrique Oswald, whose jewel of a lullaby 'Bébé s'endort' receives here a most tender performance by Luis de Moura Castro. Across the board, Moura Castro's playing is graced with a refined touch and an intelligent handling of the pedals.