COLOURS OF BRAZIL
XUEFEI YANG, Guitar
Decca 479 8791 / *****
CRISTINA ORTIZ, Piano
Intrada 016 / *****
There does not seem to be a line demarcating Brazilian classical music from its folk music. In the works of Brazil's most famous composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, choros or “street music” were freely used as his inspirations. Thus the term “crossover” almost becomes meaningless in these all-Brazilian recital discs by Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang and Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz.
Yang's offerings are more pop-oriented, with Villa-Lobos' Valsa-Choro, Scottish-Choro and Mazurka-Choro sitting happily alongside arrangements of Ernesto Nazareth's tango Odeon, Luiz Bonfa's very familiar Manha A Carnaval (from Black Orpheus) and works by Sergio Assad and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Yang's playing is vivaciously infectious, a contrast with Ortiz's more reflective selection.
Villa-Lobos' A Lenda Do Caboclo (Legend Of The Half-Blood) and Valsa Da Dor (Waltz of Anguish) for piano are both imbued with longing and nostalgic pangs which only Brazilians know as “saudade”. The dances by Mozart Carmago Guarnieri, Brazilian Suites by Oscar Fernandez and short pieces by Fructuoso Vianna are folk-inspired and instantly likable.
Vianna's tender Schumanniana was dedicated to Ortiz, a discovery she made after the composer's death. One will not get a more touching or personal performances than these.