The little suite As Três Marias
was composed at the suggestion of Edgar Varèse, whom Villa-Lobos had met in New York in 1939. At the time, Villa-Lobos had composed New York Skyline
for orchestra, which arose from a suggestion from a journalist that Villa-Lobos project a photograph onto manuscript paper and use the outline of the image as a melodic line, which he then harmonised and later orchestrated. The resultant score fascinated Varèse, who asked for a similar experiment with regard to the night sky. ‘The Three Marys’ (Três Marias
) is the name sometimes given to the three Belt stars (Alnilam, Alnitak and Mintaka—though the spellings vary) in the constellation Orion. In terms of texture and tessitura, the Três Marias
are heard at their best when played consecutively, and when their additional pulse connections can be better appreciated. It should come as no surprise to learn that this little suite soon became one of the most frequently played solo piano works of this composer.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2000