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Complete Choros & Bachianas Brasileiras
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Audio CD, Import, 28 July 2009
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- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 12.7 x 12.7 x 1.91 cm; 225.1 Grams
- Manufacturer : Bis
- Manufacturer reference : unknown
- Original Release Date : 2009
- Label : Bis
- ASIN : B002CAOVVK
- Number of discs : 7
- Customer Reviews:
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The finest recordings of these works available! The Brazilian composer (we needn't remind his most ardent supporters that he's the most significant Latin American composer of all time) behind numerous orchestral, chamber, instrumental and vocal works lets his creative genius show on Chor+Ýs (from the Portuguese verb chorar , "to weep") Nos. 1-12 and Bachianas Brasileiras ("Brazilian Bach-pieces") Nos. 1-9. Also includes a bonus disc of solo guitar music played by the distinguished Anders Miolin. Great notes in a 75-page booklet, too...recommended!
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Among the strands of his greatness come the Choros from the 1920s (CDs 1 - 3) and the Bachianas Brasileiras from the 1930s (CDs 4 - 6) and the guitar music from throughout his life. Where to start in this wonderful box? Perhaps on CD 7 with the early guitar work - Suite Populaire Bresilienne for guitar. This demonstrates Villa Lobos capacity for the common touch. Anders Miolin plays a lush guitar in a roomy acoustic. Another approach could be through the shorter Choros No 1 for guitar, No 2 for flute and clarinet, No 7 for winds, violin and cello - love the saxophone, No 3 'Pica Pau' for male choir and wind instruments, No 4 for 3 horns and trombone - wonderful sound, and the 'Brazilian Soul' of Choros No 5 for piano - lovely smokey performance by Christina Ortiz.. For links with the modern European world there is the frenzied dance power of Choros No.8. For me the high point of the Choros is reached in the sophisticated dynamism of the choral Choros No 10. This is exciting and great music in world terms. Twelve Etudes for solo guitar from 1929 and 5 Preludes from 1940 are on CD 7. These convincingly show Villa Lobos development. Then there is so much to find in Bachianas Brasileiras. The cellists are alert and incisive in No 1 and 5. On No 2 in 'The little country train' (final movement) I get a bit too much timpani. On Nos 3 and 4 there is power and passion from Jean Louis Steurman playing piano. Of the two versions of No 9 from 1945 I prefer the version for choir a capella. Throughout the orchestral works, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra gives performances that are never less than good and authentic with their conductors John Neschling and Roberto Mincziuk. I whole-heartedly commend this box set.
There are a number of recordings of the popular Bachianas but this set at least matches all competition. Few dare to venture beyond the Bachianas, reasoning that Villa-Lobos wrote over 2000 works and these are the most famous because the rest was ill thought out and written in a hurry. well I've yet to hear a piece by Villa-Lobos that didn't include some fine music along the way. He wrote seventeen quartets and they're all good, sometimes great. His eleven surviving symphonies are strong works, though his Tenth is possibly not worth the seventy minutes of listening required. Then there are the evocative tone poems and ballets. There's a lot to take in but there's plenty of time to discover all this.
Great as the popular Bachianas are here,the Choros series really steal the show in performances that might never be matched. The Bachianas offer neatly bundled suites combining Bach like music with popular Brazilian sections. Some of the works can be a little disconcerting and uneven but there's always too much good music along the way for any of the Bachianas to be lightly dismissed.
It is a bonus to have both versions of numbers 4 and 9. Number four was originally three movements with an prelude added much later - and it shows in the orchestration. Having this is the piano solo version at least helps iron out some of the creases. Number 9 is presented in both the strings only and voices only: in either version it is one of the strongest of the series. Perhaps the most popular piece, "the Little Train of My Countrymen" in number 3 is stunningly recorded with parts of the orchestration ringing out, literally where I've not heard them before: the ending with the smell of lingering steam and hot brake metal from the strings is highly evocative.
The Choros series is extraordinary, one of the great musical series of the twentieth century. They draw on the folk / street music Choros form - sounding rather free but with more rondo like structures often lurking beneath the surface. Some find the apparent freedom of form to be rambling but I think that misses the point: a conservatory trained composer of modest talent can produce a tightly argued but forgettable work. Villa-Lobos proved on plenty of occasions that he had command of classical form - try his middle quartets or even his youthful Sinfonietta. With the Choros your senses are assaulted by the richest, most voluptuous orchestration with so many wonderful episodes en route. No. 6 is a case in point: I really do think that rambles and loses its way but there's too much unforgettable music along the way to dismiss it.
The works vary between the modest scale of the solo guitar and piano works to the huge orchestra of no 12 and the massive piano concerto like no 11. I find it extraordinary that No. 11 (lasting over an hour)can work at all with the first two movements being so episodic, but it does partly through the sheer joy coursing through it and the use of a main theme in the finale that guides the work to its conclusion - what a piece. I can't think of another composer who could pull such a thing off. The orchestral works truly showcase what a great orchestrator Villa-Lobos was. The chamber works are exquisite too, not short of humour or sentiment. If anything, the chamber works are closer in spirit to the original street, popular culture that the series celebrates.
Whilst formally harking back to Brazilian national music he shows a great awareness of French fashions as he hypes up the dissonance in no 8 and the remarkable choral no 10. Both have much in common with his Amazon inspired works. Overall though there is so much hummable, foot tapping music to get carried away by and some heart melting moments of nostalgia. Numbers 6 and 9 were a great discovery to me - why aren't they better known? The Introduction to Choros for Guitar and Orchestra is a beautiful and wistful piece - again you're not likely to hear that in the concert hall either. The Choros are a wonderful life enhancing series guaranteed to put a smile on your face if you're not obsessed too much over musical double entry bookkeeping. It is not the opening or final destination that matters, it's the fantastic views along the way.
The Bachianas are better known and receive fine performances again. There is strong competition at a bargain price from both Kenneth Schermerhorn on Naxos and Enrique Batiz on EMI. Both are excellent interpretations - the equal of these in many ways but the Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra are superior to the competition and there's the small matter of the demonstration class sound engineering. Given the couplings with the Choros and the guitar works at such a good price this must be the preferred version.
The complete guitar solo works are given a fine rendition and are, again, a match for most competition. Remember, the guitar works were added as a bonus. If I have any criticism it is that a solo guitar in an echoey hall isn't ideal: I prefer the closer Naxos recording with Norbert Kraft. With an asking price for the whole lot of less than £40 on CD and £15! for a download, you've got a special series at a fabulous price. As I mentioned this set has been a great discovery for me that have since opened up the marvellous quartets,symphonies, piano works, ballets and tone poems. Thank you BIS; you've made me very happy.