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Hyperion Records

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Wolf’s Head engraved on glass by Helen Millard (b?)
Photography by Simon Bruntnell
Track(s) taken from CDA67176
Recording details: October 1999
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: June 2000
Total duration: 27 minutes 41 seconds

'Marc-André Hamelin’s transcendental sheen and facility bless everything he plays. He makes As três Marias wink and scintillate with an inimitable verve … leaves all others standing' (Gramophone)

'An impressive disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Magnificent. Easily the most sophisticated Villa-Lobos piano disc currently in the catalogue' (International Record Review)

'Hamelin presents another hour of hair-raising (not to say spine-tingling) music in performances few could match … awesome' (Classic CD)

‘Enough technical dazzle to satisfy even the most virtuoso-hungry listeners … revelatory. In short, this is a must-buy release. It’s thrillingly exciting. Recommended with all possible enthusiasm' (Fanfare, USA)

'Hamelin grasps [the music’s] sprawl clearly and delivers it with unrivalled perfection of pianistic mechanism. He relishes the delights of the lighter pieces with equal virtuosity' (The Irish Times)

‘Marvellously iridescent in these magnificent interpretations … a fantastically varied succession of miniatures that will hardly fail to please’ (The Magic Flute, USA)

Prole do bebê 2

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The second suite—1921, pictures of toy animals—is dedicated to the American pianist Aline von Bärentzen, who was born in a suburb of Boston in 1897 and who, as a child prodigy and pupil of Leschetizky in Vienna, gained an excellent reputation as a specialist in Hispanic music. (She went on to make the first-ever recording of Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, for HMV, with Piero Coppola conducting.) So far as this suite is concerned, in harmonic terms, we note Villa-Lobos’s growing use of tonal custers, rather than polytonality as such. Despite these technicalities, the music continues the charm of the first suite.

A baratinha de papel: The little cockroach here is not very lively; this is a highly atmospheric opening to the suite, slowly unfolding before a spicy tonal cluster ends the piece.

O gatinho de papelao: The cat is dozing, Lentement, and only gradually stretches itself before settling down to a soft cluster of B flat and its adjacent keys.

O camundongo de massa: The mouse has the field to himself—running about, Très animé, here is a toccata-like and relatively extended piece that coalesces into C octaves at the end, as though he has finally been caught.

O cachorrindho de borracha: The dog here is not to be disturbed. This highly imaginative piece is like a brown study, with the animal quietly musing over the day’s events, recollected in serene tranquillity.

O Cavalinho de pau: The horse will not be still. Here, this lively little animal is all-action, getting faster as the time signature changes from 3/4 to 2/4 before a breathless conclusion in an individual G tonality.

O boizinho de chumbo: In contrast, the young ox will not be hurried. Un peu modéré is the order of the day before it ambles to the shed where it retires for the night.

O passarinho de pano: Set almost entirely in the treble, but not hurrying too much, this brilliant piece anticipates Messiaen in extraordinary fashion.

O Ursinho de algodão: The little bear is both playful and gracious, if the composer’s tempo indications are faithfully followed to conjure the appropriate mood of this tonally simple piece in C.

O lobinho de vidro: Finally, the suite concludes with an extended study, very difficult to play, the wolf anticipating Peter’s animal—‘this way, and that’—before a tonal cluster, centred upon E, brings this suite to a wondrous conclusion.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2000

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