This charming disc of unaccompanied choral music by Heitor Villa-Lobos contains some real finds and doesn't even originate in the Latin sphere that produces the majority of recordings of his music. Only the vocalise Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9; the arrangement of Bach's Prelude and Fugue, BWV 853; and perhaps the Chôros No. 3 ("Pica-Páu") are at all familiar, but there's not a boring piece in the bunch, and as a group they illuminate the range of Villa-Lobos' influences. These include not only Baroque styles, Brazilian rhythms, and their characteristic mixture, but also examples of the revival of Palestrina style (sample Cor dulce, cor amabile, track 1), and some moves that go even further in the direction of folk and popular music than Villa-Lobos' usual rhythmic experiments. Sample Bazzum (1936). The text tells the tale of a slave revolt, and the music initially seems a bit corny on the surface. But when you listen to the lyrics (they're given in German and English, as well as Portuguese or Latin) the piece's considerable impact becomes apparent. Bazzum is the slave leader's name, and its repetition ingeniously shifts between rhythmic and narrative functions. This is a lost little choral masterpiece, and there are several other folkish pieces that could spice up any choral program. The Vocal Ensemble of Southwest German Radio in Stuttgart is one of the fine regional choirs of which Germans are justifiably proud, and they and their British-born director Marcus Creed are to be commended for unearthing a Villa-Lobos program that should appeal even to Brazilian listeners.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9, for vocal orchestra|
|Duas Lendas Amerindias em Nheengatu, for choir a cappella|
|Bendita Sabedoria, six pieces for six mixed voices a cappella|