João Carlos Assis Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1945) says he recorded Todos os Pianos in fewer than two sessions. His love for the instrument and Brazilian music is evident not only because of the feat he claims above but also because of the music he presents in this album. In a series of medleys, he accomplishes some quite extraordinary results. I’m one that opposes most albums that use that recourse, but I must say that through Assis Brasil’s arrangements, the medleys he plays here acquire a new life. He is particularly at his best when he picks songs from the Brazilian repertoire to showcase his artistry.
Of course numbers by Ernesto Nazareth, Chiquinha Gonzaga and Zequinha de Abreu are included in this collection. Instead of playing them in a direct and traditional way, Assis Brasil merges them beautifully in what becomes almost a new melody but yet keeping the composers’ original styles and, most definitely, the original melodic lines. His transition from Zequinha de Abreu’s “Moleque Sarado” into “Tico-Tico no Fubá” is a gem. The crescendo he uses before playing the first notes in that song sets the mood for a most fascinating and fast rendition of that famous tune. It is quite impressive. Assis Brasil also included in Todos os Pianos two songs composed by his twin brother Victor Assis Brasil. However, the album reaches a pinnacle right on the second track, “Suíte Melodistas Brasileiros.” In this moving tribute to giants Tom Jobim, Chico Buarque, Luiz Bonfá, Francis Hime, Ruy Guerra and Cartola, Assis Brasil outshines and outdoes every other rendition of those songs he plays here. “Retrato em Branco e Preto” shows the classical side of Jobim we are all familiar with. “Manhã de Carnaval” never sounded more Chopinesque than it does here. Hime’s “Minha” plays like a sonata. As for Cartola’s “As Rosas Não Falam,” Assis Brasil paid a memorable tribute to that samba in Rachmaninoff style. The arrangement is overwhelmingly beautiful, touching and outstanding! I promise your heart will be pounding like you’ve never had it happen like that before. As for the two North American composers featured here, Assis Brasil does a nice tribute to the music of Gershwin and Porter. He certainly captured the humor in Porter’s music even though there are no lyrics in these arrangements. Going to the other side of the Atlantic, we find Michel LeGrand and Nino Rota, two composers who have given us great movie themes. Assis Brasil’s choice of those composers was perfect, and those medleys serve like a nice introduction to the cinematographic suite and the grand finale with classical pieces by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Brahms and Tchaikovsky.
Todos os Pianos seems to cover a lot of ground, but with the able hands and talents of João Carlos Assis Brasil, the result almost looks effortless. Don’t be fooled by appearances. The world of emotions evoked by the music performed here is timeless.
João Carlos Assis Brasil
Todos os Pianos
Biscoito Fino BF-572 (2003)
- Suíte Nazareth (Brejeiro – Odeon – Faceira – Apanhei-te Cavaquinho)
- Suíte Melodistas Brasileiros (Retrato em Branco e Preto – Manhã de Carnaval – Minha – As Rosas Não Falam)
- Suíte Chiquinha Gonzaga (Aracê – Aguará – Sabiá da Mata)
- Prelúdio em Sol Menor (Victor Assis Brasil)
- Valsa do Reencontro (Victor Assis Brasil)
- Suíte Improviso (João Carlos Assis Brasil)
- Suíte Zequinha de Abreu (Moleque Sarado – Tico-Tico no Fubá)
- Suíte Gershwin (Soon – ‘S Wonderful – Our Love Is Here to Stay – Rhapsody in Blue)
- Suíte Cole Porter (I Get a Kick out of You – Love for Sale – From This Moment On – My Heart Belongs to Daddy)
- Suíte Legrand (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg – Summer of 42 – Summer Me, Winter Me)
- Suíte Nino Rota (I Vitelloni – Amarcord – Noites de Cabiria)
- Suíte Cinematográfica (Amarcord – As Time Goes By – My Favorite Things – Entertainer – Over the Rainbow – Limelight – I Got Rhythm)
- Suíte Clássica (Tchaikovsky Concerto – Rapsódia sobre Tema de Paganini – Noturno – Fantasia Improviso – Dança Húngara – Concerto Nº 2 – Polonaise)