Monday, June 14, 2010

Sonia Rubinsky Contest, v.2 winner & v.3 review

The contest is now over; thanks, everyone, for participating!

Congratulations to Bernie Folta from New Hampshire, the second winner of a CD from Sonia Rubinsky's complete set of Villa-Lobos's Piano Music on Naxos. Six more discs will be awarded, one each week until the entire set has been sent out. It's easy to enter: send an email to and tell me your favourite piano piece by Villa-Lobos. If you've already entered, your name stays in the pool.

Disc 3: the winner has been drawn, and will be announced here Real Soon Now.

For the third disc, the team of Rubinsky, Silver & Kraft were once again recording at Grace Church in Toronto, this time in September of 2000. The project was on a roll. This time the standout work was Choros #05 "Alma Brasileira". Early works share the disc with more substantial pieces like the 1936 Ciclo Brasileira. A number of pieces from volume 3 were featured at the 1922 Semana de Arte Moderna in Sao Paulo, and caused quite a stir. The African dances and the second piece from Suite Floral might seem a bit tame today, though emotions ran high that week in Sao Paulo. Certainly Villa-Lobos had written more modernist works by 1922. By the way, Suite Floral was a favourite of Arthur Rubinstein, and he programmed the final piece, Alegia na Horta, in hundreds of concerts over the years.

One of the most interesting things about this disc, though, is the inclusion of arrangements for piano of two of Villa's greatest works: the 1st Choros for guitar, and the 2nd Choros, originally written for flute and clarinet. The transcription of the 1st Choros is by Odmar Amaral Gurgel, while Villa-Lobos himself came up with the piano version of the 2nd Choros. The great thing about Rubinsky's series is that while the major works are completely solid, she keeps coming up with nearly unknown pieces (including some world recording premieres later in the series) to keep Villa-Lobos super-fans interested.

The third disc had for its cover one of my favourite Brazilian paintings, Cafe (1935) by Candido Portinari. This was an excellent match in subject matter and time period with the Ciclo Brasileira.

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