THE "ODEON" TANGO was composed by Ernesto Nazareth, a Brazilian, but the first name likely to pop into your mind when you hear this dazzling little piano piece is Scott Joplin. The music has Joplin's rhythmic vitality, melodic charm and the special formal perfection that is possible only in short, unpretentious compositions. Like Joplin's ragtime music, the "Odeon" tango raises a popular dance form to the status of a small classic.

The Odeon was a movie house in Rio de Janeiro where Ernesto Nazareth played the piano for silent films. Heitor Villa-Lobos, who was a cellist in the Odeon orchestra, became a friend of Nazareth, used many of the same Brazilian popular forms in his own music and praised him as "the true incarnation of the Brazilian soul." Darius Milhaud, who worked at the French Embassy in Rio, came frequently to hear Nazareth play, and we can hear his music directly quoted in some of Milhaud's Brazilian pieces. His praise of Nazareth echoes that of Villa-Lobos: "His playing helped me better understand the Brazilian soul."

Both Milhaud and Villa-Lobos became internationally famous. Nazareth was extremely popular in Brazil during his lifetime but almost unknown elsewhere. When Brazilian pianist Arthur Moreira Lima played Nazareth's music at the Library of Congress in 1982, it was the composer's introduction in this country.

Now, Lima is featured in two long-playing albums that will make this composer more familiar: "Tangos, Waltzes, Polkas of Ernesto Nazareth" on Pro Arte PAD 146 and "Waltzes and Tangos of Ernesto Nazareth" on Pro Arte PAD 170. The playing is fluent, technically assured and totally idiomatic; the music is a delight. The same qualities can be heard in Lima's performance of the Chopin Waltzes (PAD 177), but the joy of discovery makes his two Nazareth albums more interesting.

Almost as unknown as Ernesto Nazareth and also involved with movies was composer Charles Koechlin (1867-1950). As a leading musical theorist, a student of Faure', friend of Debussy and Ravel and teacher of Poulenc and Milhaud, he was a serious if not dazzling figure in modern French music. Then Hollywood came along; Koechlin, in his sixties, fell in love (at a distance) with actress Lilian Harvey and wrote more than 100 short pieces in her honor. These were followed by other film-related works -- including the "Seven Stars" Symphony (recorded on Angel DS 37940), which has movements dedicated to Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo and others.

Now, Nonesuch Records has issued another Hollywood opus by Koechlin (albeit a short one), the "Danse lente" from his "Danses pour Ginger Rogers" on an album (71413) that is mostly dedicated to earlier and less glitzy works: selections from the delicately descriptive "Heures persanes" ("Persian Hours") and the "Nouvelles Sonatines Franc,aises," which are more abstract in form and content, imaginative in harmony and elegant in melodic line. The performer is Israeli pianist Boaz Sharon, who earlier performed what may be the best available recording of Koechlin's music: the "Paysages et Marines" and the "Pastorales" on Orion 79332. Sharon is a pianist of superb technique and keen stylistic sense, well attuned to the music of this minor but interesting figure. In his performances, Koechlin emerges convincingly as a composer worth more attention.

Recordings of the standard piano classics continue to appear at dizzying speed. Briefly noted below are a few of the more noteworthy.

Schumann: The Revolutionary Masterpieces. Charles Rosen, piano (Nonesuch 9 790621-1 X, 3 LPs). Rosen writes about music as well as he performs it, and in this stunning collection he does both. His thesis, stated in his extensive notes, is that "all of Schumann's greatest piano music was written by 1839, before he was 30 years old." He illustrates his point with the six works that most clearly show Schumann's revolutionary impact on piano music: the Impromptus on a RECORDINGS Discovering Ernesto Nazareth By Joseph McLellan

THE "ODEON" TANGO was composed by Ernesto Nazareth, a Brazilian, but the first name likely to pop into your mind when you hear this dazzling little piano piece is Scott Joplin. The music has Joplin's rhythmic vitality, melodic charm and the special formal perfection that is possible only in short, unpretentious compositions. Like Joplin's ragtime music, the "Odeon" tango raises a popular dance form to the status of a small classic.

The Odeon was a movie house in Rio de Janeiro where Ernesto Nazareth played the piano for silent films. Heitor Villa-Lobos, who was a cellist in the Odeon orchestra, became a friend of Nazareth, used many of the same Brazilian popular forms in his own music and praised him as "the true incarnation of the Brazilian soul." Darius Milhaud, who worked at the French Embassy in Rio, came frequently to hear Nazareth play, and we can hear his music directly quoted in some of Milhaud's Brazilian pieces. His praise of Nazareth echoes that of Villa-Lobos: "His playing helped me better understand the Brazilian soul."

Both Milhaud and Villa-Lobos became internationally famous. Nazareth was extremely popular in Brazil during his lifetime but almost unknown elsewhere. When Brazilian pianist Arthur Moreira Lima played Nazareth's music at the Library of Congress in 1982, it was the composer's introduction in this country.

Now, Lima is featured in two long-playing albums that will make this composer more familiar: "Tangos, Waltzes, Polkas of Ernesto Nazareth" on Pro Arte PAD 146 and "Waltzes and Tangos of Ernesto Nazareth" on Pro Arte PAD 170. The playing is fluent, technically assured and totally idiomatic; the music is a delight. The same qualities can be heard in Lima's performance of the Chopin Waltzes (PAD 177), but the joy of discovery makes his two Nazareth albums more interesting.

Almost as unknown as Ernesto Nazareth and also involved with movies was composer Charles Koechlin (1867-1950). As a leading musical theorist, a student of Faure', friend of Debussy and Ravel and teacher of Poulenc and Milhaud, he was a serious if not dazzling figure in modern French music. Then Hollywood came along; Koechlin, in his sixties, fell in love (at a distance) with actress Lilian Harvey and wrote more than 100 short pieces in her honor. These were followed by other film-related works -- including the "Seven Stars" Symphony (recorded on Angel DS 37940), which has movements dedicated to Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo and others.

Now, Nonesuch Records has issued another Hollywood opus by Koechlin (albeit a short one), the "Danse lente" from his "Danses pour Ginger Rogers" on an album (71413) that is mostly dedicated to earlier and less glitzy works: selections from the delicately descriptive "Heures persanes" ("Persian Hours") and the "Nouvelles Sonatines Franc,aises," which are more abstract in form and content, imaginative in harmony and elegant in melodic line. The performer is Israeli pianist Boaz Sharon, who earlier performed what may be the best available recording of Koechlin's music: the "Paysages et Marines" and the "Pastorales" on Orion 79332. Sharon is a pianist of superb technique and keen stylistic sense, well attuned to the music of this minor but interesting figure. In his performances, Koechlin emerges convincingly as a composer worth more attention.

Recordings of the standard piano classics continue to appear at dizzying speed. Briefly noted below are a few of the more noteworthy.

Schumann: The Revolutionary Masterpieces. Charles Rosen, piano (Nonesuch 9 790621-1 X, 3 LPs). Rosen writes about music as well as he performs it, and in this stunning collection he does both. His thesis, stated in his extensive notes, is that "all of Schumann's greatest piano music was written by 1839, before he was 30 years old." He illustrates his point with the six works that most clearly show Schumann's revolutionary impact on piano music: the Impromptus on a Theme of Clara Wieck, Op. 5; the "Davidsbu ndlerta nze," Op. 6; "Carnaval," Op. 9; the Sonata in F-sharp minor, Op. 11; "Kreisleriana," Op. 16; and the "Poems for the Piano," the unpublished first version of his Fantasy in C minor, Op. 17. In Opp. 5, 6, 16 and 17, where the composer had significant second thoughts, Rosen plays the first version; his purpose is to show a revolution happening, not necessarily to present a masterpiece in its most finished form. His playing, like his comments, is lucid, meticulous, analytic without losing its passionate intensity. In words and music, this package is a major statement about one of the piano's most important, intriguing and problematic composers.

Schumann: Fantasia in C, Op. 17. Liszt: Rhapsodie espagnole; Song transcriptions from Schubert and Schumann. Nina Lelchuk, piano (Telarc DG 10075). Nina Lelchuk is an exciting artist and this recital shows why, almost with the impact of a live performance. Her technique is impressive in the frequent passages that call for speed, power and precision, but the deepest attractions of the record are not based on mere muscular coordination. Lelchuk is a poet; her fingers dance the Aragonese jota beautifully in Liszt's "Spanish Rhapsody" and they have mastered the vocal phrasing essential in his song transcriptions. The power and subtlety of her performance are presented in sound of extraordinary realism.

Schumann: Davidsbu ndlerta nze, Op. 6. Schumann-Liszt: Fru hlingsnacht; Verdi-Liszt: "Rigoletto" paraphrase. Robert Taub, piano (Harmonia Mundi HM 5133).

Beethoven: Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"); Sonata No. 3 in C. Andre'-Michel Schub, piano (Vox Cum Laude D-VCL 9062).

Taub and Schub have played in Washington and their solid, intelligent musicianship has won them an enthusiastic following here. On these records, they give near-exemplary performances of demanding repertoire. One could quibble: Taub does not yet have Lelchuk's knack of vocal phrasing in his Liszt song paraphrase, and Schub may be a shade too emphatic in parts of the earlier Beethoven sonata. But both rise eloquently to the greatest moments in their chosen music. Theme of Clara Wieck, Op. 5; the "Davidsbu ndlerta nze," Op. 6; "Carnaval," Op. 9; the Sonata in F-sharp minor, Op. 11; "Kreisleriana," Op. 16; and the "Poems for the Piano," the unpublished first version of his Fantasy in C minor, Op. 17. In Opp. 5, 6, 16 and 17, where the composer had significant second thoughts, Rosen plays the first version; his purpose is to show a revolution happening, not necessarily to present a masterpiece in its most finished form. His playing, like his comments, is lucid, meticulous, analytic without losing its passionate intensity. In words and music, this package is a major statement about one of the piano's most important, intriguing and problematic composers.

Schumann: Fantasia in C, Op. 17. Liszt: Rhapsodie espagnole; Song transcriptions from Schubert and Schumann. Nina Lelchuk, piano (Telarc DG 10075). Nina Lelchuk is an exciting artist and this recital shows why, almost with the impact of a live performance. Her technique is impressive in the frequent passages that call for speed, power and precision, but the deepest attractions of the record are not based on mere muscular coordination. Lelchuk is a poet; her fingers dance the Aragonese jota beautifully in Liszt's "Spanish Rhapsody" and they have mastered the vocal phrasing essential in his song transcriptions. The power and subtlety of her performance are presented in sound of extraordinary realism.

Schumann: Davidsbu ndlerta nze, Op. 6. Schumann-Liszt: Fru hlingsnacht; Verdi-Liszt: "Rigoletto" paraphrase. Robert Taub, piano (Harmonia Mundi HM 5133).

Beethoven: Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 ("Appassionata"); Sonata No. 3 in C. Andre'-Michel Schub, piano (Vox Cum Laude D-VCL 9062).

Taub and Schub have played in Washington and their solid, intelligent musicianship has won them an enthusiastic following here. On these records, they give near-exemplary performances of demanding repertoire. One could quibble: Taub does not yet have Lelchuk's knack of vocal phrasing in his Liszt song paraphrase, and Schub may be a shade too emphatic in parts of the earlier Beethoven sonata. But both rise eloquently to the greatest moments in their chosen music.