Villa-Lobos: ‘Pià returns from the war’ (‘Francetta et Pià’)  [1’34”]

Débora Halász, piano

30 Jean Manzon - Heitor Villa-Lobos, 1944

Villa-Lobos takes a call — he’ll make the bed later

From the composer of surely one of the most enervating pieces of music ever written (does anything make the heart sink like finding oneself in the presence of the Bachianas brasileiras Nr 5, however beautifully sung? – it can’t be just me) comes this vivid gem.  Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959) is yet another folk-nationalist, the influence of the European tradition having by his time extended as far as Brazil.  Not that he would have seen it that way.  “I have not come to learn,” he superbly said on a trip to Europe, “I have come to show what I have made up to now.”  What he has made here is a suite of ten cute little pieces, composed in Paris in 1929 for the piano class of Ravel’s admired Marguerite Long, telling the story of a young Brazilian Indian boy (Pià) and French girl (Francette) – which serves to explain the work’s juxtaposition of French and Brazilian elements, as in our example.

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