Recorded over 20 years and featuring a fairly random selection of works, this two-disc set of the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos will still be welcome by fans of the composer for one simple reason: it contains performances by pianist Cristina Ortiz, perhaps the best pianist ever to tackle his music. Along with an exciting performance of the Fantasia for soprano saxophone and orchestra played by soloist John Harle with Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and an atmospheric performance of the Concerto for guitar and small orchestra played by soloist Angel Romero with Jesús López-Cobos conducting the London Philharmonic, this two-disc set also includes Ortiz's stunning performances of the Bachianas brasileiras No. 3 and Mômoprecôce with Vladimir Ashkenazy leading the New Philharmonia Orchestra, plus her staggering performances of 12 works for solo piano. What is it about her that makes Ortiz a great Villa-Lobos player? There's her unstoppable rhythmic energy, unbelievable technical virtuosity, incredible understanding of the music's unique fusion of classical and popular elements, and then there's her achingly beautiful tone, her refreshingly robust interpretations, and her apparently unlimited enthusiasm for Villa-Lobos' music. Any fan of the Brazilian composer who doesn't already have Ortiz's recordings should by all means hear these discs.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3, for piano & orchestra, A. 388|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Fantasia for saxophone, 2 horns & strings, A. 490, Op. 630|
|Guitar Concerto, A. 501|
|A Prole do bebê (8), suite for piano, Book 1 ("A família do bebê"), A. 140|