Various Artists

Villa-Lobos: Nonetto; Quatuor

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Heitor Villa-Lobos was surprisingly well represented on records during his own lifetime for someone whose style was so often bizarre and whose career was so far from the mainstream of Western music. Many of these recordings Villa-Lobos led, participated in, or played himself; EMI has issued a six-CD box set of these, and that still does not exhaust what is out there in terms of his own interpretations. Él's disc Villa-Lobos: Nonetto contains some recordings of Villa-Lobos' music made during his lifetime in which he was not personally involved. Some are taken from a Museum of Modern Art concert of 1940 devoted to Brazilian music, others a 1957 album for Capitol led by Roger Wagner -- its front cover was adapted for the handsome front cover of this CD -- and some odds and ends from arch-classical guitarists Julian Bream, Laurindo Almeida, and Andrès Segovia. Only a limited amount of Villa-Lobos gained traction in those times, so here we are presented with two different recordings of the Nonetto and two of the Quartet for flute, harp, celesta, and women's voices. For someone looking to get to know Villa-Lobos -- and this appears to be the intended audience for this disc -- this feature will not be convenient, but for collectors with a wide-ranging interest in early Villa-Lobos recordings it will be appreciated. The transfers are good, particularly on the solo guitar pieces as played by Segovia and Almeida, and while this is a rather motley assemblage of Villa-Lobos, these are interesting performances historically and the music is certainly captivating; this stuff is from the surface of his huge output, not from the bottom of his drawer. The quartet from the Museum of Modern Art is a little noisy, and Julian Bream's tracks, made in 1955, are a bit on the dim side.

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