Congratulations to Joana Gama of Portugal, the sixth winner of a CD from Sonia Rubinsky's complete set of Villa-Lobos's Piano Music on Naxos.
The winner of Volume 7 will be drawn on Friday, July 23rd.
The transcriptions for piano of the Guitar Preludes by José Vieira Brandão provide another fascinating listening experience, and one which I found even more musically satisfying. These five pieces are among the greatest in the guitar literature, and are the first Villa-Lobos works I heard (and, naturally, fell in love with). They fit very well in their new piano guise, which is a tribute both to Brandão's re-thinking of the music for the piano, and Rubinsky's phrasing on the keyboard. I thought the third Prelude, inspired by Bach, worked especially well on the piano. James Melo, in his excellent liner notes, calls the Brandão transcriptions "true transcendental etudes for the piano." They deserve to be taken up by more pianists, either as a group, or one at a time as a encores. It's a good way to get this response: "I know this piece. What is it? It's by Villa-Lobos, but wait a minute! Something doesn't sound right!"
In the 1940s Villa-Lobos transcribed the third movement of Bachianas Brasileiras #2 (not #3 - a typo in the liner notes) for piano. Dedicated to Georgette Baptista, this version was never published (the score is in the Museu Villa-Lobos), and was first played by Cláudia Tolipan in London in 1990. It sounds a pretty slight piece on the piano. It makes you want to hear a really good orchestra led by a really good conductor (let's say the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, conducted by Eduardo Mata).
The rest of the disc is filled with really interesting little bits, including some world premiere recordings. I play Feliz aniversario from the Canções de Cordialidade every year on Villa-Lobos's birthday (March 5th), and Feliz Natal is always in my Christmas playlist as well.
The sound from this 2007 recording continues excellent, especially in the turbulent Amazonas. I've read reviewers who prefer the bright sound of the later Paris recordings (6-8) to the softer sound provided by Kraft & Silver in their earlier Toronto ones (2-5). But the whole series seems to me to place one in a realistic space, and Rubinsky does the rest!