Recently I've been following two really interesting stories about Brazilian pianists. Last month I blogged about Marcelo Bratke, who overcame near-blindness on his way to becoming a world-renowned concert pianist. I look forward to the publication of Bratke's new recording of the complete Villa-Lobos piano music.
Another story, in O Globo's Gazeta on-line, is a feature on the great pianist and conductor João Carlos Martins. The article by Erik Oakes tells the really fascinating stories of the incredible physical disabilities Martins has overcome: nerve damage and repetitive strain injuries to both hands, combined with the effects of a nasty mugging in Bulgaria. Last October Martins appeared with jazz great Dave Brubeck at Lincoln Centre, and he'll be conducting the Orquestra Camerata Sesi on March 16 in Espírito Santo. That concert includes Bachianas Brasileiras no. 4.
One of the coolest things in Oakes' story is that the Sao Paulo Samba School Vai-Vai will be including the story of Martins in their 2011 Carnival presentation. The title will be A Música Venceu - The Music Wins.
Recently I've been enjoying the music of João Carlos Martins on The Naxos Music Library. Martins recorded the complete keyboard music of Bach on the Labor label, and you can listen to all of them at NML. I especially enjoy his concertos discs, and especially Brandenburg Concerto no. 5: LAB7042.