By the 1940s Heitor Villa-Lobos was widely recognized as Latin America’s greatest composer. Working in the United States gave him new perspectives, and his later symphonies move away from the folk influences and exotic effects of works written in the 1920s and 30s, such as the Bachianas Brasileiras, towards more concise, sometimes neo-classical, models. The Eighth and Nineth share a transparent lightness of touch while the Eleventh, described as a work of ‘immediate charm,’ is the perfect introduction to the later work of Villa-Lobos. Since its firstRead more concert in 1954 the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra has developed into one of today’s leading orchestras. An indispensable part of Sao Paulo and Brazillian culture that promotes deep cultural and social transformation, the orchestra has released over 60 recordings and has toured throughout Brazil, Latin Aerica, the United States, and Europe. In 2012 Marin Alsop was engaged as principal conductor, and in 2013 she was appointed music director. That same year the orchestra went on a fourth European tour, performing to great acclaim at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, the PHilharmonie in Berlin, and at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Isaac Karabtchevsky's sure-footed pacing conveys a deep understanding of these scores. The orchestra is wonderfully on point, which makes an enormous difference in music as finely shaded as this. An absolutely essential release.
Symphony no 8by Heitor Villa-Lobos Conductor:
Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1950; Brazil
Symphony no 9by Heitor Villa-Lobos Conductor:
Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1952; Brazil
Symphony no 11by Heitor Villa-Lobos Conductor:
Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1955; Brazil
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
São Paulo Symphony and Karabtchevsky DeliverNovember 9, 2018By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"Volume five of Naxos' Villa-Lobos Symphonies features three works written for American premieres. Symphony No. 8 was completed in 1950, No. 9 in 1952, and No. 11 in 1955. Despite the five-year span, the three works share several similarities. All three are relatively short. Villa-Lobos' motifs are almost epigrams, and yet these are densely-compact works. The symphonies are all neo-classical in general style, with just a trace of Stravinsky occasionally popping through. The 8th Symphony was premiered at Carnegie Hall, with Villa-Lobos conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. The 9th Symphony was also premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra, this time under the direction of Eugene Ormandy. The 11th Symphony marked the 75th Anniversary of the Boston Symphony and was premiered with Charles Munch. Of the three, the 11th is probably the most challenging. Villa-Lobos wrote to the strengths of the ensemble. To properly perform this work, an orchestra has to be nimble. The BSO was one such ensemble -- the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra is another. At this point in their cycle, Isaac Karabtchevsky and the São Paulo Symphony have become Villa-Lobos experts. They manage to capture the essential Brazilian essence of his work that gives it such vitality. Another solid addition to this important series from Naxos. I anticipate the next volume will maintain the same high quality set forth in the first four."Report Abuse
Masterpieces revealedJuly 2, 2017By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Villa-Lobos wrote twelve symphonies, though only eleven of the scores survive, and he wrote them from early in his career (1916) to very late (1957, two years before his death). People have been warning us for a long time not to value Villa-Lobos's symphonies too highly. I know this; I've been one of them. Don't expect too much, was the message, his best works are for the guitar and piano, and in the Choros and the Bachianas Brasileiras series. Now that we're well into the Naxos Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) series, led by Isaac Karabtchevsky, I'm beginning to think this particular piece of conventional wisdom might be wrong. These three symphonies sound familiar, sure, because they sound like Villa-Lobos. But even though I've heard all three a number of times, in the very good CPO series from Carl St. Clair and the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Stuttgart made around the turn of the last century, the music on the new disc sounds fresh and new and really quite amazing. This series is forcing all of us to sit up and take notice of a whole big chunk of Villa-Lobos's legendarily large output. In his really excellent liner notes the guitarist and musicologist Fabio Zanon talks about how Villa's mature symphonies suffered because they were different from people's expectations and because of editorial problems with the scores. Though I hear the odd echo of the Choros from Villa's heyday in Paris in the 1920s, and plenty of call-outs to the Bachianas Brasileiras series of the 1930s and early 40s, the 8th, 9th and 11th Symphonies share something of a reboot feeling for the composer. Here he finally turns his back, more or less, on modernism, while doing the same, more or less, with the folkloric music that made his worldwide reputation. There's a neo-classical (not neo-baroque) sound that goes along with early classical symphonic structures. Zanon sees and hears both Haydn and Mozart in this music, with Beethoven and Schubert lurking around the edges. Having stripped down his orchestral music to the essentials, we're now more aware than ever of how Villa-Lobos has constructed the music. To be sure this is still music written for large orchestras, but there's no Brazilian percussion component, no prepared pianos or violinophones, and no over-the-top Romantic gestures. The first movement of the 9th Symphony is instructive. Villa zips out three themes in quick succession, gives them a quick run-through in his contrapuntal-light machine, and then, when you expect a fair bit of noodling, he winds things up abruptly, with a typical Villa-Lobos flourish. All done in less than four and a half minutes. I must say that I like the concise Villa-Lobos; it makes a nice change from the often over-blown padding of more than a few of his works. This is vivid, direct, lively music without empty gesticulation. With the varnish of score errors and outdated preconceptions removed, these three symphonies emerge as masterpieces."Report Abuse