Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Modernism & the Avant Garde in Brazilian piano music


Aleyson Scopel's complete series of Cartas Celestes by José Antônio Rezende de Almeida Prado is of great importance in terms of both Brazilian music and piano repertoire. Volume 2 continues the series with three meaty but by no means unmusical pieces that use a multitude of piano sonorities and compositional techniques. Almeida Prado began his multi-year opus after returning from studies in Paris (with, among others, Olivier Messiaen and Nadia Boulanger) and Darmstadt (with both György Ligeti and Lukas Foss). But as I discussed in it my review of Volume 1, one hears just as much the modernist works of Heitor Villa-Lobos in this fierce and complex music for piano. The ground-breaking Rudepoema which Villa-Lobos wrote in the early 1920s is like a presence just behind much of Cartas Celestes 4-6. Nor does Almeida Prado neglect, in this avant garde music, the folklore and dance rhythms that give life to Villa-Lobos and indeed all the music of Brazil.

Brazil has a glorious tradition of great pianists, from Guiomar Novaes to Nelson Freire, and from the evidence of these two discs we can now add the young Aleyson Scopel to the rolls. His technique is outstanding, but he also has the intellectual and emotional discipline to communicate Almeida Prado's massive structures as something more than clever mathematical constructs. Volume 2 will be released on February 10, 2017.

José Antônio Rezende de Almeida Prado

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