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JANUARY 2012, 'Sergio Gallo: Mostly Villa-Lobos: 20th-Century Piano Music from the Americas', Eroica JDT3425

JANUARY 2012, 'Sergio Gallo: Mostly Villa-Lobos: 20th-Century Piano Music from the Americas', Eroica JDT3425

Reviewed by Ray Picot

This is one of the most interesting and eclectic piano discs that I’ve heard for some time. 19 tracks of music, including the challenging Rudepoema by Villa-Lobos, Sergio Gallo takes us on a real voyage of discovery, lit by a keen musical imagination and amazing technique. Much of the music is lighter i.e., Nazareth, Lima, Netto and Cervantes, but it is never treated trivially and always the dance rhythms are well sprung. Somehow mixing the more salon orientated music with stronger musical fare succeeds, as a disc of sweetmeats could be too much for the palette!

Guarnieri’s Toccata is a brilliant reminder of the composer’s characteristic writing for the piano, contrasted by two pieces by Henry Cowell who, like Cage, expanded what could be expressed with the piano. Another American we hear is Robert Muczynski, in six of his Preludes, Op.6 written in a more approachable style, though no less inventive, and played with great élan. And so to Villa-Lobos who is represented by A Mare Encheu, Impressoes seresteiras and Rudepoema. Gallo is completely at home in his fellow countryman’s eclectic music with its stylistic contradictions, teeming invention, and rhythmic vitality. The large-scale Rudepoema, perhaps one of the most difficult pieces to realise with its virtuoso writing and episodic structure, really hangs together in this magnificent performance, and ends a fascinating and rewarding musical journey.

 

 

 

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