Villa-Lobos, Netto, Mignone, Krieger, Nobre & Miranda

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COMPOSERS: Krieger,Mignone,Netto,Nobre & Miranda,Villa-Lobos
LABELS: Lorelt
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Brazilian Mosaic
WORKS: Works by Villa-Lobos, Netto, Mignone, Krieger, Nobre & Miranda
PERFORMER: Clélia Iruzun (piano); Lontano/Odaline de la Martinez
CATALOGUE NO: LNT 115 (distr. Discovery)
This anthology of 20th-century Brazilian music appears to be built around the artistry of pianist Clélia Iruzun, since except for Villa-Lobos’s ninth Bachianas brasileiras every item is either a piano solo or a concertante piece for piano and small orchestra. It’s a pleasant but ultimately rather disappointing listening experience, since the prevailing idiom – even in composers born 50 years apart – seems to be a less than adventurous neo-classical stance with a modest spice of Brazilian folk inflections. Sometimes this neo-classicism-lite is a little Frenchified, as in Mignone’s delightful Fantasia; sometimes dark and Bartókian, as in Marlos Nobre’s Concertante do imaginário (a piece of some distinction, but hardly challenging – even the string glissandi in the last movement, claimed as ‘like electronic music’, build on familiar examples in Stravinsky and Ravel). Sometimes it’s like Hindemith or Copland. But the one composer who comes across as a true individual – even in the little As três Marias children’s piano pieces, scintillatingly played here – remains Villa-Lobos. Elsewhere we have charm and harmlessness. One feels an opportunity has been missed – there must be more characterful repertoire that could have been included. Or if there isn’t, what does that say about the restrictions on composers in Brazil from the Fifties to the Eighties? Calum MacDonald