Villa-Lobos: As três Marias; A prole do bebê Suites Nos 1 & 2; Rudepoêma

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COMPOSERS: Villa-Lobos
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: As três Marias; A prole do bebê Suites Nos 1 & 2; Rudepoêma
PERFORMER: Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Villa-Lobos’s two suites entitled The Baby’s Family are deceptively named – and even more deceptively compared in this CD booklet to Schumann’s Kinderszenen. Recollections of childhood they may both be, but Schumann and Villa-Lobos’s early experiences, and the music they inspired, could hardly be more different. If Villa-Lobos felt any retrospective nostalgia concerning his childhood, it is only periodically apparent in these works. For the most part they are dense-textured, hugely complicated scores, vast cascades of notes negotiated with vigour and style by Marc-André Hamelin. Hamelin is sensible to mood-swings when they occur: ‘The Little Papier-Mâché Mouse’ is a portrayal of a mouse furiously charging around a house like an accelerated elephant; this is followed by ‘The Little Rubber Dog’, an oblique and introspective piece, whose contrasting subtleties are attentively drawn out by the pianist. Titles of individual pieces do not always offer a clue as to their contents: the final number in The Baby’s Family is ‘The Little Glass Wolf’, a wildly manic essay that provides a fitting, conclusive tribute to Villa-Lobos’s irrepressible energy. Hamelin finishes off with Rudepoêma, a tour de force both as composition and performance, and a virtuosic climax to an impressive disc. Christopher Wood