I 'discovered' Ernesto Nazareth about 8 years ago while surfing the internet. I found him in a composer alphabet: N is for Nazareth, the only entry under N. I always have my eye out for Brazilian music because of fond connections there. Further, Nazareth was billed as the 'King of Brazilian Ragtime' (or some such grandiose title). I play rags (please don't call me a ragtime piano player), and I have come to object to Nazareth's music being considered 'ragtime'. Nazareth's music is unique music with complex influences of which ragtime is not one. Nazareth's music is a cousin of ragtime; both are rooted in Gottschalk. It is uniquely Brazilian music- and influenced even Villa Lobos as such. It is fun, lively, witty, teasing; Nazareth makes Joplin seem very serious. Yet, the moods of Nazareth are deep. I call the music 'Nazareth'.
Iara Behs gives us a delightful sampler, showing off Nazareth's range of moods, styles, & influences in a spirited- very Brazilian- performance. The notes she writes are as touching as her piano performances, and it is worth the price just to read her sensitive description of the man and his music. I once read a review complaining that for all that Nazareth wrote everyone records the same stuff. Iara's CD is a great blend of new and familiar recordings. Her selections demonstrate thoughtfulness and purpose. However, I wish she would have played 'Fon-Fon' as it always gives me saudades for Rio de Janeiro traffic, and only Cariocas play it right.
The CD is well-recorded, faithfully replicating piano and music. If possible, I would have chosen 4.5 stars (near-excellent) rather than 5 (excellent). While Iara's brilliant expression offsets any technical error, I find some expression- specifically some ritenutos- distracting (subtract 1/2 star).
Anyone interested in piano music of any genre should enjoy this CD. If you do not yet know Nazareth, buy this CD as a treat. If you do know Nazareth, you need to buy it.