Justin Badgerow: Reminiscences of Brazil

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This is an entertaining and varied programme of piano music. The Brazilian side gives the music life and a vivacity that’s a little unexpected but don’t expect it to sound very Latin American. It’s as much in the feel and passion as the rhythm. It’s robust, and powerfully played; there’s nothing of the polite salon about this, although neither is it wild. It sounds very modern, in the sense of freshness and energy.

The sleeve notes describe all the composers and the programme is based on the music of the streets and the fields. Heitor Villa-Lobos contributes two pieces and he took an interest in popular music played by street musicians in Rio de Janeiro, as well as indigenous music he encountered during trips through the country.

Work by Francisco Paulo Mignone opens the recording in dramatic fashion, elsewhere a waltz nodding towards the European salon, although it’s still got an air of the exotic or even danger about it, while another of his pieces closes with more passionate Afro-Brazilian samba. Other composers include Darius Milhaud, who worked for the French foreign ministry in Brazil during World War I; he named movements after different districts of Rio.

This is the debut Divine Art album from American pianist Badgerow and we’d like to hear more from him, and his powerful, confident playing.

This is out on Divine Art, dda 25201.

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