Max Barros

Camargo Guarnieri: Piano Music, Vol. 1

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Mozart Camargo Guarnieri (his brothers were named Rossine and Verdi) has been widely regarded in Brazil as the country's second-ranked composer of the 20th century, after Heitor Villa-Lobos. He was a generation younger and lived even longer, adapting his style as nationalism went in and out of fashion, and he has been gaining attention outside Brazil. Those new to his music might try one of Brazilian-American pianist Max Barros' recordings of Camargo Guarnieri's six piano concertos, well-crafted works falling between Villa-Lobos and Bartók. The solo piano music recorded here is a bit more of a niche item, but it's far from uninteresting. The centerpiece is the group of five sets of Ponteios, a term that denotes the tuning improvisation engaged in by guitarists. They are essentially piano preludes, but they're of a special sort: they are very simple and similar in form, basically binary, and they have a minimal quality that brings to mind the music of Mompou. They're fascinating, even if they don't quite work individually nor make a satisfying impression when dozens of them are played in succession, as here. They await interesting new programming decisions. Elsewhere you get one of Camargo Guarnieri's most popular pieces, the pure Braziliana of the Dança negra (CD 1, track 1), a few other pieces in the same vein, the delightful small neo-classic Suite Mirim ("mirim" means "small" in the Tupi language), and the tonally edgier Sonata, composed in 1972 and clearly influenced by Bartók. Brazilian popular materials are present everywhere to a greater or lesser degree, and there's a great deal to think on here for contemporary composers working on a rapprochement between the two worlds; Camargo Guarnieri was as varied in his approach to the problem as any other composer. Barros has a bit of a careful style, but his commitment to and knowledge of this music is enthusiastic. Recommended for all interested in Latin American music.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:26
2 2:22
3 1:59
Ponteios: Book 1
4 1:57
5 1:02
6 2:30
7 1:10
8 2:39
9 1:58
10 2:41
11 1:34
12 3:01
13 2:01
Ponteios: Book 2
14 1:53
15 0:47
16 2:18
17 2:03
18 1:08
19 1:31
20 1:01
21 2:18
22 2:06
23 3:05
Ponteios: Book 3
24 1:34
25 1:09
26 0:59
27 2:21
28 0:43
29 3:05
30 1:28
31 1:58
32 2:11
33 2:31

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Ponteios: Book 4
1 2:22
2 1:16
3 1:55
4 4:11
5 1:02
6 2:44
7 1:14
8 2:41
9 0:58
10 2:04
Ponteios: Book 5
11 1:50
12 1:23
13 1:45
14 1:45
15 2:05
16 1:53
17 1:59
18 2:22
19 2:16
20 2:44
Suite Mirim
21 1:32
22 1:22
23 1:19
24 1:14
Sonata
25 3:56
26 7:26
27 4:27
blue highlight denotes track pick