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Ernesto NAZARETH (1863-1934)
Tangos, Waltzes and Polkas
Espalhafatoso (Boisterous) [2:30]
Brejeiro (Mischievous) [1:57]
Confidências (Confidences) [7:05]
Escovado (Cunning) [4:11]
Nenê (Baby) [3:20]
Ameno Resedá [2:35]
Turbilhão de Beijos (Whirlwind of Kisses) [6:54]
Gaúcho [2:45]
Plangente (Lamenting) [5:12]
Topázio Líquido (Liquid Topaz) [3:16]
Ouro Sobre Azul (Gold on Blue) [3:16]
Sarambeque [2:59]
Epônina [5:47]
Escorregando (Going down well) [2:37]
Tenebroso (Gloomy) [3:19]
Odeon [3:09]
Apanhei-te Cavaquinho (I have grabbed you, Cavaquinho) [2:33]
Iara Behs (piano)
Rec. Concert Hall of the Music Academy of North Rhine-Westphalia, Heek, Germany, November 2003. DDD
NAXOS 8.557687 [63:24]


If, like me, your knowledge of Brazil barely extends beyond nuts, Pelé and Villa-Lobos, then the name Ernesto Nazareth will be unfamiliar. But I put this disc on and immediately felt I knew the music. The Brazilian pianist Iara Behs writes in the booklet that, until a few years ago, no serious pianist would dare to include Nazareth in their repertoire but that she never met anyone who did not like his music. To me he sounds like a Brazilian Billy Mayerl and none the worse for that - this disc could be just the thing to dispel the January blues.

Although Nazareth’s music frequently sounds carefree, this does not reflect his troubled life. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he worked as a pianist in cinemas and there was a storm of protest when his works were included in a concert at the National School of Music. Eventually, in 1933 he was committed to a psychiatric hospital but he subsequently escaped and drowned himself. Most of his music was for the piano and in the form of a dance with a particular fondness for the tango. He used the rhythms of Brazilian popular music and was an important inspiration to Villa-Lobos.

The seventeen pieces on this disc cover a wide range of themes and emotions but even the relatively serious Confidências is easy on the ear. The Whirlwind of Kisses is another gem and Cavaquinho wasn’t the only person “grabbed” by the last work (because I certainly was). Odeon presumably derives from Nazareth’s work in cinemas and in it the left hand imitates the guitar. Perhaps best of all is Liquid Topaz (referring to the colour of a local beer) which should certainly be accompanied by something to quench thirst.

The playing of Iara Behs is committed and colourful, and her notes on the music are insightful. She is well recorded with impressive bass sonority and an attractive ambience. This is my first disc of 2005 and the year could hardly be off to a better start.

Patrick C Waller




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