Villa-Lobos: Bachianas brasileiras No. 4; Carnaval das crianças; Francette et Piá

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COMPOSERS: Villa-Lobos
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Piano Music, Vol. 4
WORKS: Bachianas brasileiras No. 4; Carnaval das crianças; Francette et Piá
PERFORMER: Sonia Rubinsky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555717
This fourth volume in Sonia Rubinsky’s dependable survey of Villa-Lobos’s piano music spans quite a range of time – from the salon-like Valsa romântica of 1907, which must be one of his earliest surviving pieces, to the fourth Bachianas brasileiras, put together in 1941. It also mixes well-known pieces such as the Bachianas and the Carnaval das crianças with much less well-known ones, such as a delicious ‘Valsa mistica’ from the Simples coteânea of 1917 which shows a strong vein of French impressionism, a somewhat obsessive dance piece called Poema singelo (1938) and the children’s suite Francette et Piá (1928) which, in an idiom not far from Debussy’s Childrens Corner, tells the story of the romance between a French girl and an Indian boy from Brazil (who seems to get sent off to fight in the French army, but it all turns out right in the end). This suite ends with a number for piano duet, as does Carnaval das crianças, and in these movements Rubinsky is joined by Tatjana Rankovich. Rubinsky strikes me as a thoughtful rather than a brilliant pianist, and this repertoire suits her well – her approach is Romantic, occasionally slightly ponderous, as in the Preludio of the Bachianas, but her rubato in the various pieces in dance measures (which account for most of the disc) is free and sensitive and she creates a nice range of keyboard colour for these attractive works. Calum MacDonald

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