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Rudepoema is arguably Villa-Lobos’ most significant piano work. A Rite of Spring for keyboard (the title is often translated as ‘savage poem’) with links to to Primitivist art, Maura Castro’s response is suitably visceral. Castro studied with two of Villa-Lobos’ favourite pianists, Arnaldo Estrella and Tomas Tehran, and his handling of this repertoire is masterly.

Mômo Précoce (‘Momo’, God of the carnival; ‘Précoce’, representing children in costume) is heard in its orchestral version (it was originally Carnaval des crianças). The textures are the polar opposite from Rudepoema: light, transparent, dancing. Castro emphasises the music’s joy, its more relaxed panels providing a stark foil to the muscularities of Rudepoema.

Almeida Prado’s Fifth Sonata (1984/5) is dedicated to Castro. Its subtitle refers to an orisha, or spirit in human form: Omolú, deity of death and rebirth. Castro’s performance is exemplary over this varied terrain, with its hints of Ginastera meets Brazilian-inflected Impressionism.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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