Heitor Villa-Lobos' two numbered cello concerti come from the opposite ends of his output; the first Grande Concerto dates from 1915 and the second from 1953. In between there is another concertante work, the Fantasia for cello and orchestra, which is contemporaneous with the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for soprano and eight cellos that remains Villa-Lobos' most popular work. In this MD&G issue, Heitor Villa-Lobos: Concertos for Violoncello and Orchestra, cellist Ulrich Schmid is heard with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie under conductor Dominique Roggen in the numbered concertos only, although there easily would have been enough room on the 42-minute-long disc to accommodate the Fantasia as well.
The young Polish musician Krzysztof Meisinger (b. 1984) is one of the most fascinating and charismatic guitarists of his generation. With the legendary Academy of St Martin in the Fields under the direction of the Brazilian conductor José Maria Florêncio, he has recorded the famous Guitar Concerto of Heitor Villa-Lobos. In this work of 1951, Villa-Lobos paid eloquent homage to the guitar’s qualities as a concert instrument. The recording also includes the Five Preludes for solo guitar, and an arrangement of Melodia Sentimental for guitar, violin, and string orchestra. This programme – recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London! – ideally displays the flexibility of a young soloist ready to conquer the world with his bewitching playing.
Heitor Villa-Lobos was born in Rio de Janeiro. His father, Raul, was a wealthy, educated man of Spanish extraction, a librarian, an amateur astronomer and musician. In Villa-Lobos's early childhood, Brazil underwent a period of social revolution and modernisation, abolishing slavery in 1888 and overthrowing the Empire of Brazil in 1889. The changes in Brazil were reflected in its musical life: previously European music had been the dominant influence, and the courses at the Conservatório de Música were grounded in traditional counterpoint and harmony. Villa-Lobos underwent very little of this formal training…
The finest recordings of these works available! The Brazilian composer (we needn't remind his most ardent supporters that he's the most significant Latin American composer of all time) behind numerous orchestral, chamber, instrumental and vocal works lets his creative genius show on Choros (from the Portuguese verb chorar , "to weep") Nos. 1-12 and Bachianas Brasileiras ("Brazilian Bach-pieces") Nos. 1-9. Also includes a bonus disc of solo guitar music played by the distinguished Anders Miolin. Great notes in the booklet, too…highly recommended! - Gramophone Magazine
Villa-Lobos’ War and Victory Symphonies were commissioned by the Brazilian government following the end of the country’s involvement in World War I. Using very large orchestral forces, and conveying the composer’s feelings about the conflict with no sense of triumphalism, the two Symphonies display a confident use of unusual and evocative effects, such as the collage of fragments of the Brazilian national anthem and La Marseillaise in the ‘Battle’ movement of the Third Symphony. Villa-Lobos’s Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 can be found on Naxos 8573043 in “superb… full-blooded” performances.
The music of Heitor Villa-Lobos is known for its characteristic nationalism, driving rhythms, and original instrumentation. He was trained as an autodidact opposed to academic instruction, his music grew in a completely independent and individual fashion.