WORKS: Bachiana brasileira No. 4; Amazonas; Chôro No. 2; Chôro No. 5
PERFORMER: Luiz Carlos de Moura Castro (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 96306
Villa-Lobos’s greatest hit is his fifth Bachiana brasileira for soprano and cellos, recorded by creamy-voiced sopranos like Kiri Te Kanawa. There’s a lot more where that came from, for a marriage of Bach with popular Brazilian music, nostalgic and winsome, formed the basis of a whole series of suites, and the fourth gets de Moura Castro’s disc off to a very attractive start. He’s not the most polished virtuoso, but he sounds honest and enthusiastic, and he’s decently recorded. The biggest continuous work he plays is an arrangement of an orchestral tone poem, called Amazonas, and suitably torrid, and the final piece is an explosive toccata, whose title means ‘Dance of the White Indian’.
Much of Villa-Lobos’s piano music is for children, and seven sets of these short pieces fill Débora Halász’s disc. She’s a bit of a banger, and the concept of melting cantabile is foreign to her, but then the very bright piano and upfront recording don’t help. As for the pieces, they are perfect in their way – utterly uncondescending, attractive and neatly made. Those based on folk tunes are particularly appealing. Adrian Jack