Music for violin and piano from Brazil

Turbulent emotions are given restless, anguished music from a composer in search of a voice all his own in the one-movement Sonata No.1 for violin and piano Desesperança – Sonata Fantastica e Capricciosa no. 1 composed by the 28-year old Heitor Villa-Lobos in 1915.

Two more sonatas followed, both in a classically-structured, three-movement format, both longer in duration than the Sonata No.1.

The Sonata No. 2, named “Fantasia” by its composer boasts plenty of melodic ideas in a first movement Allegro that is followed by a stately Largo and capped by a lively Rondo.

The violin part soars, dips and ascends in musical flights of fancy throughout all three movements in a Neo-Romantic idiom that owes more in its freely tonal construct to what was being composed in Paris during the first two decades of the twentieth century than to what Latin American composers may have sought to imitate. That said, the sound one hears is authentically that of a composer sure of what his musical identity to be, perhaps not yet intrinsically Brazilian, but definitely no longer pseudo-European.

Even though Villa-Lobos did not get to hear his 1917 tone poem Amazonas performed until 1929 and his extraordinary Uirapuru from the same year until quite a bit later, his musical identity was solidly in place as he set out to write his Third Sonata for Violin and Piano, a vibrant work in which an opening Adagio vaguely atonal at times is followed by a straight ahead Allegro and an even quicker Finale – all three movements owing something to Debussy’s late career works.

The pairing of Paolo Rossi’s technically unimpeachable, solidly supportive pianistic gifts, to Emmanuele Baldini’s boldly Romantic approach to this music makes for a felicitous result in this remarkable Naxos CD that features two formidable Brazilian artists at the top of their game in music by their great compatriot Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Rafael de Acha      ALL ABOUT THE ARTS