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Villa-Lobos: Symphonies No 3 & 4 / Karabtchevsky

Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573151   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
Conductor:  Isaac Karabtchevsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These two symphonies were both composed in 1919 and reflect the composer’s response to the First World War. Musically they have a lot in common, save that the “War” Third Symphony features a lengthy funeral march while the “Victory” Fourth Symphony (I know, it’s not “Peace”, but it makes a better review title) shifts the focus onto the bright and confident finale—happily, life-affirming but with no bombastic strutting about here. They are both beautiful works, indulgently scored, but not overlong. They last only about half an hour each, are full of incident, and so they make a perfect coupling.

These performances are even better than the first release in this ongoing cycle. Isaac
Read more Karabtchevsky really seems to have woken up as an interpreter now that he has a fine orchestra under his baton. The “War” symphony is even livelier than the competition (on CPO), and the strings of the São Paulo Symphony seem quite comfortable with the composer’s strange ostinatos and dense, but often light, textures. Make no mistake, this is not easy music to play, and its relative lack of popularity is easily explained by the dearth of obvious Brazilian folk elements. But these are serious and enjoyable works, and it’s great to see them getting the attention they deserve from the composer’s compatriots. Terrific.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 4, W 153 "A Vitória" by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Conductor:  Isaac Karabtchevsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Brazil 
Symphony no 3 "A guerra" by Heitor Villa-Lobos
Conductor:  Isaac Karabtchevsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; Brazil 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Compelling Villa-Lobos from Sao Paulo June 20, 2013 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "By the time Villa-Lobos came to write his 3rd and 4th Symphonies in 1919, he already had under his belt two great works for large orchestra: Amazonas and Uirapuru, from the breakthrough year of 1917. As well, he had written a significant body of chamber music composed according to classical and romantic models. This was the period where he was finding his own voice as a composer, and that voice comes out to a large degree in both the 3rd Symphony, subtitled A Guerra, The War, and the 4th, A Vitória, The Victory. The Naxos Symphonies series with Karabtchevsky conducting OSESP is winning me over to this music even more than the complete CPO series from Stuttgart under Carl St. Clair from a decade ago. This is sophisticated symphonic music, written perhaps under the influence of Russian composers such as Borodin, Rimsky Korsakov and especially Tchaikovsky. Villa-Lobos knew this music inside out from his days as an orchestral musician - he played the cello with the symphony and in the opera pit. In the end Villa's Symphonies don't measure up to the nine written by the Swede Kurt Atterberg, who was born in the same year as Villa-Lobos. But it's quite interesting to compare Atterberg's 3rd, 4th and 5th Symphonies with Villa's 3rd and 4th. All were written during and just after the First World War, and though I can't imagine either knew the music of the other, there are similar themes and sometimes a common sound-world. It makes the disappearance of Villa's 5th Symphony even more vexing. When Villa-Lobos himself conducted and recorded his orchestral music with the French National Radio Orchestra in Paris in the 1950s, he chose the 4th Symphony to go with the complete Bachianas Brasileiras and a selection from the Choros series. But he never sold that piece to the orchestra or the phonographic audience, or if he did you can't tell from the thin sound. Karabtchevsky and his Brazilian orchestra sell both of these symphonies, and I look forward to listening to them again. And I definitely look forward to the release of future discs in this series." Report Abuse
 Exciting music May 10, 2013 By paul m. (simpsonville, SC) See All My Reviews "These symphonies are terrific. There is a real sense of a war going on in the 3rd and dramatic elation of victory in the 4th. Has sections reminiscent of Shostakovitch and other sections similar to Atterberg. I highly recommend this CD." Report Abuse
 A Compelling Pair April 9, 2013 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "This is the second installment of Villa-Lobos symphonic cycle by Karabtchevsky and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. The two symphonies on this release are the surviving parts of a triptych commissioned by the Brazilian government to celebrate the end of the First World War. Symphony No. 3 "War," and Symphony No. 4 "Victory" are on this release. Symphony No. 5 "Peace" is lost. Completed in 1919, these symphonies play against expectations. First, the works have very little of the folk elements Villa-Lobos scores are known for. Second, although commemorating victory, the symphonies avoid bombastic and heroic gestures. And the results are two compelling and attractive works that deserve a wide audience. Symphony No. 3 "War" has some bugle calls and an excerpt from La Marseillaise. The latter references the French battlefields where Brazilian troop fought and died. But beyond these elements there's nothing overly militaristic about the work. Instead, Villa-Lobos has written a very somber and understated symphony that captures the mood of a nation that discovered there's nothing glorious about war in the trenches. The programmatic names of the four movements frame the story the music effectively conveys; Life and Labour, Intrigues and Rumors, Suffering, and The Battle. Symphony No. 4 "Victory" is a big, expansive work that isn't as dark as the third symphony. But this isn't a celebration as much as a reflection on the cost of victory. Villa-Lobos uses the resources of his enlarged orchestra effectively, creating broad thematic gestures that slowly unfold. Symphony No. 4 is more elegiac than triumphant. The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra is well-recorded, and under Isaac Karabtchevsky's direction delivers sympathetic and committed performances. I look forward to the next installment of this cycle." Report Abuse
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