Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Villa-Lobos is one of those composers (Haydn and Milhaud are examples of others) whose reputation has suffered through the vastness of their output. Where does the listener start? What are the major works? No problem here! This recital presents the most important of his solo piano works in definitive performances by Marc-André Hamelin.
A one-disc compendium of the essence of Villa-Lobos. The major work is Rudepoema; written in the 1920's for Artur Rubinstein it was said by the composer to be a portrait in music of the dedicatee. The work is a virtuosic tour-de-force and certainly captures the larger than life exuberance of the then young virtuoso; perhaps it could be regarded as a Latin-American equivalent of Stravinsky's Three Movements from Petrushka also dedicated to Rubinstein. The Prole do Bebê (The Baby's Family) suites represent in the first suite various dolls and in the second toy animals. These are not children's pieces, though, but adult reflections on these images. The music has a certain Ravelian clarity but again coloured with the rhythms of South America. O Polichinelo in the first suite is certainly Villa-Lobos' most popular piano piece and frequently crops up as recital encore, a trend begun by Rubinstein. The recital is completed by As Três Marias, three delightful miniatures that actually represent the three stars in the 'belt' of the constellation Orion.