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.
Mozart Camargo Guarnieri was the most important Brazilian composer next to Villa-Lobos. Guarnieri’s piano music embodies his most distinctive stylistic features. One of his most beloved works, the Dança Negra shares folk-music inspiration with the Suite Mirim. The Ponteios are characterized by an enormous variety of Brazilian music styles and moods, and the Sonata can be seen as a summary of Guarnieri’s musical personality. Max Barros’s “unfaltering brio and a complete command of the idiom” (Gramophone) can also be heard in Guarnieri’s Piano Concertos (Naxos 8.557666 and 8.557667).
Composer, conductor, and pedagogue. Camargo Guarnieri occupies a central position in the context of Brazilian music. His influence on several generations of nationalist composers is widely acknowledged and can hardly be overestimated. The universal appeal of his style, which can be felt immediately upon contact with his works, results primarily from his highly personal blending of melodies and rhythms influenced by Brazilian traditions with … read more
Max Barros, piano
Piano: Max Barros
The pianist Max Barros was selected as Soloist of the Year in 1985 by the São Paulo Art Critics Association for his performance of Brahms’s Piano Concerto in D minor with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. A dedicated champion of Brazilian music, he has given premières and recorded several works by some of Brazil’s foremost composers, including … read more
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Here’s a performance of Guarnieri’s Ponteio no. 47. Unfortunately, the pianist is not identified.