Here's an enjoyable release for the listener who has wondered how Heitor Villa-Lobos fits into a wider tradition of Brazilian music -- and he does in various ways, despite his globe-trotting career. What makes Villa-Lobos so endlessly compelling is that owing to the facts of Brazil's social history, nationalism was temporally pushed forward in its music to a point where it intersected with a variety of modern trends. Villa-Lobos is represented here by some fairly unusual compositions, including his late Hommage à Chopin (which doesn't sound much like Chopin at all). But the other composers, far from being overshadowed by Villa-Lobos, had their own solutions to the question of nationalism and modernism. The program is almost but not quite chronological: as a kind of intermezzo Monteiro goes back to a very Chopin-like nocturne from the late nineteenth century by Leopoldo Miguéz. The opening Sonata No. 1 of Francisco Mignone draws on Brazilian popular music for its motor rhythms, but creates an entirely different impression from Villa-Lobos' more extended works. The last three works are contemporary. The Tango of Marlos Nobre takes off not from Villa-Lobos but from Astor Piazzolla; nationalism, insofar as it occurs in recent times, is regional rather than country-based. The four Preludios of Cláudio Santoro are flavored with bossa nova rhythms. Perhaps the most attractive piece is the delightful finale, the Cartas Celestes, Vol. 1 of Almeida Prado -- written on commission by a planetarium to accompany one of its shows. The timings of the celestial events the music was meant to accompany are specified in the track list, and far from coming off as awkward program music the piece has an ecstatic frame of mind that almost evokes Messiaen. Pianist Eduardo Monteiro is on home ground here, and is both technically and interpretively confident. Recommended to anyone who has enjoyed the Villa-Lobos standards.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Sonata No. 1|
|Saudades das selvas brasileiras, for piano, A. 226|
|Homenagem a Chopin (2), for piano, A. 474|
|Três estudos em forma de Sonatina, for piano|