While Bis are making
real headway with recording the seven
symphonies by Guarnieri it has fallen
to Naxos to address the piano concertos.
Back to basics. Camargo
Guarnieri is the second most noted Brazilian
composer - the first being Villa-Lobos.
Rather like the music of his more illustrious
compatriot Guarnieri's works received
performances in the USA and Europe.
Stokowski, Ormandy and Leonard Bernstein
included his music in their orchestral
This is the world premiere
recording of the First Concerto which
had to be reconstructed from orchestral
parts. Its rhythmic vitality and range
of orchestral effect is notable. The
dissolute and the dangerous rub shoulders
with the exuberance of carnival and
the noise of street life. Yet in the
attacca second movement there
is time for hushed and murmurous self-absorption.
The finale rasps, rattles and cracks
with electricity. Everything is pellucidly
laid out in a score that has the rude
eruptive energy of Villa-Lobos without
his dense horizontal voluptuousness.
This is a cracking performance too.
The tang and burr of
this score owes something to the use
of the reco-reco (scraper), the chocalho
(rattle) and culca (friction drum).
Guarneri in the piano
solo shows the syncopative brilliance
of Walton, Lambert and Prokofiev in
music that is picaresque, brusque, fantastic,
stirring and triumphant. This is very
much the case with the Second Concerto.
Another thing you come to notice quickly
is his mellow way with the middle movement
of the concertos which are enchantingly
time-stoppingly thoughtful as a counterpoise
to the headlong rhythmic activity by
which they are hemmed in. In the case
of the Second Concerto the romance is
touched with the metropolitan romance
There is a tightening
of romantic belts in the Third Concerto.
The rhythmic threat and vitality is
still there in the solo part but some
dissonance is present in the ruthlessly
exciting solo part. James Melo, in his
invaluably informative note, remarks
on the work's sinfonia concertante nature
although solo and group lines from the
orchestra strike me as just as integral
in the other two concertos. Once again
the middle movement is romantic yet
for example in the filigree butterfly
dialogue with the flute (1:40 onwards)
there is a degree more chill in the
This is presumably
the first of two CDs to provide a complete
cycle of the six piano concertos. I
hope so. For now the adventurous will
be rewarded with three piano concertos
bursting with vitality and charting
Guarneri's way with the rhythm and romance
of the big city.
See also reviews by
Phillips and John