Review of LNT136: Marlos Nobre Piano Music
Michael Round, International Piano
Last month’s IP brought us Brazilian composer Mozart Camargo Guarnieri, and now, thanks to enterprising Latin-American specialist label Lorelt and London-based compatriot pianist Clélia Iruzun, We have Marlos Nobre (born 1939 in Recife). He is reckoned to have successfully merged national and international styles, and his academic CV includes numerous composition prizes and the presidency of Unesco’s International Music Council.
On this evidence, Nobre’s default setting is machismo. His energy — Clélia Iruzun’s, too, over a mere two-day recording period — is unflagging, the music shot through with pounding ostinatos perhaps inescapably influenced by Villa-Lobos’ sterner pieces. Lyricism is in short supply, the second movement Cantilena of the fourth Ciclo Nordestino being the first calm piece on the disc. The first Ciclo is technically very easy; the others are all taxing, though the best ones — the nagging Tango Op 61, Frevo No 2 and the relatively well-known Toccata, Ponteio e Final Op 12 — are rewarding to study.
The booklet note mentions some self-borrowings we have to take on trust. Nazarethiana Op 2, incidentally, is a (not readily apparent) homage to Ernesto Nazareth, Brazil’s answer to Scott Joplin: my 1980s copy of it (published, like most of his other Works, by Irmãos Vitale) was already its fifth edition. I’d like to have heard the third Ciclo, with its heel-of-hand and fisted clusters and knocking on the piano frame. Maybe that will form part of a second volume.