Roberto Minczuk

Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 1, 4, 5 & 6

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The nine Bachianas Brasileiras of Heitor Villa-Lobos represent a wonderfully unique set of pieces, many of which are scored for unusual sets of instruments, that beautifully juxtapose Baroque and classical forms with vibrant Brazilian Nationalism. Such works require not only technically superior musicians, but they also posses a deep understanding of the rhythmicity and panache of the Brazilian folk idiom. The cellists of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra possess all of these characteristics in abundance. The First and Fifth of the Bachianas are scored for an orchestra of cellists (with a soprano in the Fifth); these two pieces test the range of the cello as well as the tone production skills of the artists performing them. This recording demonstrates all that the cello has to offer: beautiful, soaring lines in the upper registers; complex and rhythmically vital inner voices; and deep, calming lower passages. The Preludio of the First Bachianas is especially lush; intonation is generally very precise, and the performance is musically sensitive. Soprano Donna Brown's effortless performance of the demanding Fifth Bachianas is a perfect complement to the orchestra of cellists. Also on this album are the Fourth and Sixth Bachianas, scored for solo piano and flute and bassoon duo, respectively. Performed by Brazilian guest soloists, these two works are every bit as musically informed as the previous two. This album is absolutely a wise choice for these works, and should be supplemented by the other two volumes for a complete set of the Bachianas.

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