Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"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.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A triumphant close to a magisterial piano series

Almeida Prado: Cartas Celestes 13, 16, 17, 18

The great Cartas Celestes series of the Brazilian composer Almeida Prado comes to a triumphant close with this fourth release by Aleyson Scopel. The series reminds me of the 15 Choros Villa-Lobos wrote between 1920 and 1929 (13 numbered works, an Introduction, and the Choros bis) in their combination of an avant garde musical language and folkloric influences, but most importantly in the intellectual and emotional scope of their vast canvases. Though nearly all of these works focus on the piano, the fact that three do not (#7 is for two pianos and symphonic band, #8 for violin and orchestra, and #11 for piano, marimba and vibraphone) makes one think of Villa's Choros series as well. It would be great if Naxos could record these three works to complete the series.

But not to worry, Aleyson Scopel has everything well in hand on the piano side. If anything there is more virtuosity on display here, especially in #16-18, which Almeida Prado wrote in his last year, 2010. The whole series comes to a fitting end with a reference to Macunaíma, the elemental, larger than life character from Mario de Andrade's great modernist novel of 1928. And there are musical echoes of the elemental Villa-Lobos himself, especially Rudepoema and the two books of Prole do Bebe, along with the Choros series. Villa-Lobos famously said "This is my conservatory," pointing to a map of Brazil. To that map Almeida Prado has appended the great Celestial Map of the sky above Brazil, and Aleyson Scopel is the astronomer and astrologer who makes interprets this beautiful and awesome music.

This disc will be released on April 13, 2018.

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