Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Villa-Lobos: The Complete String Quartets

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The 17 string quartets of Heitor Villa-Lobos are not as highly esteemed as the six by Béla Bartók or the 15 by Dmitry Shostakovich, for they do not approach those masterpieces in technical invention, clarity of purpose, or depth of expression. All the same, there is a place in the repertoire for these overlooked pieces, and a wider appreciation of them is warranted. Certainly, Villa-Lobos aimed lower than either Bartók or Shostakovich, but he knew his own strengths and wrote competent quartets, strongly characterized by the influences of Brazilian popular music, early twentieth century experimentation, and, self-admittedly, the ideals of Classical form. The layout of four contrasting movements prevails in all but the String Quartet No. 1, and Villa-Lobos regularly observes traditional forms. Even though his movements take unusual turns in their modernist tonal schemes and elaborate contrapuntal developments, something of Haydn's conciseness and wit shows through, perhaps more apparently than any influence from Beethoven. The Cuarteto LatinoAmericano have clearly made this recording project a labor of love, and have spent six years in the undertaking. Recorded between 1994 and 2000 in New York and Mexico City, the sound quality is more or less agreeable, though the performers are consistently energetic and compelling in their committed readings.

Track Listing - Disc 7

Title/Composer Performer Time
blue highlight denotes track pick