Villa-Lobos: Choros Nos. 5, 7 & 11

John Neschling / Orquestra Sinfónica do Estado de São Paulo - OSESP / Cristina Ortiz

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Villa-Lobos: Choros Nos. 5, 7 & 11 Review

by Mike D. Brownell

As a form, the choros was as difficult a form for composer Heitor Villa-Lobos as it has been for musicologists. Some of them are more like concertos, others like symphonies, and still others more like free-form serenades. Even the instrumentation for these creations, much like his Bachianas Brasileriras, is clear in this selection of the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh choros. Of these three, Choros No. 5 is by far the strongest contribution on this album. Scored for solo piano and masterfully performed by pianist Cristina Ortiz, this track has the best synthesis of rhythmic clarity while preserving the free nature of the composition. Ortiz is joined in Choros No. 11, originally composed for Arthur Rubinstein, by the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. While Ortiz's playing retains its rhythmic integrity and precision, these ideals are not matched by the orchestra. Conductor John Neschling leads the group through a surprisingly imprecise, rhythmically mushy interpretation of the orchestra part that appears to take place in total isolation with what is occurring with the solo piano. A smaller group from the orchestra is selected for the Choros No. 7, scored for winds, violin, and cello. While the chamber ensemble is able to produce a more rhythmically vital sound, it still pales in comparison to the panache and detail with which Ortiz performs.

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