Originally issued on Marco Polo, these performances make a welcome reappearance on the Naxos label. Villa-Lobos used the "Chôro", a popular type of urban street music found in Rio de Janeiro, as the basis for a new and vibrant type of orchestral composition. Chôros No. 8 evokes a primeval Amazonian jungle with its wonderfully vivid sound-imagery. By making extensive use of Brazilian rhythms and percussion, particularly the caracaxa, which sounds like a huge set of maracas, Villa-Lobos gives the music an impetuous, even sinister feel. This powerful rhythmic thrust pervades throughout, taking a strangely Coplandesque turn for a brief mid-point sequence that brings to mind El salon Mexico.
Chôros No. 9 opens in a brightly festive atmosphere, punctuated by kinetic bass drum thuds. In its colorful character, varied moods, and scenes that segue one into another, the piece is reminiscent of Respighi's Feste Romane (though there's nothing Italianate about Villa-Lobos' language). This is fun stuff--mysterious, exciting, and sensuous--and it's all done with astonishingly authentic flair by the Hong Kong Philharmonic (they really whack the percussion!) under conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn. The 1985 recordings retain their clarity, but also their tendency to brightness. At the Naxos price, this is an irresistible invitation to sample the music of this Brazilian master.
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com