About Brazilian dance music composer Ernesto Nazareth, Heitor Villa-Lobos once said, "He is the true incarnation of the Brazilian soul." To ears outside of Brazil, Nazareth's music can sound like an appealing admixture of Scott Joplin and South American rhythms. Practically all of Nazareth's music is written for piano, and his acknowledged output of about 300 works consists of Brazilian Tangos, or which he is the considered the greatest exponent, waltzes, polkas, and a scattering of semi-formal concert pieces. Pianist Thomas Tirino, whose recorded edition of the works of Ernesto Lecuona for BIS is well known, has been doing a little digging, and the front cover of Koch's Ernesto Nazareth: Music for Solo Piano shows Tirino proudly displaying a tall stack of manuscript music, said to be 100 or more "new" Nazareth works he discovered.
Ernesto Nazareth: Music for Solo Piano certainly is not exclusively devoted to Tirino's new finds; as a matter of fact it is mostly made up of the tried and true, and includes familiar Nazareth hits such as Odeon, Vem Cá, Brahnquinha, Apanhei-te cavaquino, and Brejeiro. Tirino plays the 25 Nazareth compositions represented here with the same brio and verve he brought to Lecuona, but it does seem that his tempi in much of this literature is a shade fast, as though his superb technical virtuosity and speed are somehow a viable substitute for maintaining the music at a pace that can be danced to. Likewise, some of the newly discovered pieces are none too impressive, being mostly waltzes, polkas, and other things that sound indistinguishable from the majority of the nineteenth century variety of instrumental pop.
Although Tirino's playing is quite good, as is Koch's sound, there really isn't anything special about Ernesto Nazareth: Music for Solo Piano that sets it apart from other compilations of Nazareth's work on disc, and there are plenty of these available. If one is looking to be acquainted with Nazareth's music, this is not a bad place to start, but check to see what else is out there before you invest. Hardcore fanciers of Nazareth should not view Ernesto Nazareth: Music for Solo Piano as an automatic acquisition, as the works on this album do not represent a significant addition to his output so much as it is merely more stuff that Nazareth wrote in styles already familiar.