The Piano Music of Mozart Camargo Guarnieri played by Max Barros

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The magic of this music is how naturally the composer folds unrelated musical genres into his own unique sound world. Suggestions and moods of Jazz, blues, classical (impressionism to be most accurate) and Brazilian folk music are nuanced together so successfully that the result is absolutely captivating, a hypnotic synthesis that defines the composer’s style.

He is Camargo Guarnieri (1907 – 1993), who is “universally recognized as the most important Brazilian composer next to Villa-Lobos.” (from the liner notes by James Melo). Most of the music on this two CD set from Naxos is devoted to his Ponteio, Books I – V, for solo piano, the pieces most closely associated with the composer. They are very brief character pieces that encompass a broad range and blend of moods drawing on a variety of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic possibilities. It is often atonal, but it seems not for the sake of being so. Rather, tonality is disregarded to facilitate the higher purpose of creating color.

Guarnieri’s music is very pleasant just to be around, but there is substance to it too, and it bears some focused listening. I think it is the amalgamation of genres that makes the music so interesting. Guarnieri might take a rhythmic pattern typically associated with ragtime, add irregular accents to it, a Brazilian folk melody and harmonies that could have come from Ravel or Debussy. It’s all so subtly and tastefully done, and the result is mesmerizing.

Pianist Max Barros was born in California of Brazilian parents and he leaves nothing wanting in his excellent performances. These especially well engineered recordings are among the best that I have heard from Naxos.


Here’s a performance of Guarnieri’s Ponteio no. 47. Unfortunately, the pianist is not identified.