I find it very interesting that Heitor Villa-Lobos could so easily equate Brazilian folk music with that of J.S. Bach. All the more interesting are his "tributes to Bach in a Brazilian style". Each of the Bachianas Brasileiras are scored differently, and in many cases, there are many versions of the same work. This disk features four of the Bachianas Brasileiras and one setting of the Choros, Number 10.
Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 is very thickly textured for the entire orchestra. Percussion and use of brass give the Brazilian feel while the form and many of the progressions give the feel of Bach. Villa-Lobos will often use an actual Brazilian folk melody, but make sure its archetypal shape is Baroque or he will put the melody into a "Bachian" technique. The dance rhythms, however, are Brazilian through and through. No. 5 is scored for multi-divisi cello parts and solo soprano. Only two movemnts long, the 1st is very much a vocalise with is monosyllabic melody. Contrasting, the 2nd movement is more like a patter song. Renee Fleming has a naturally beautiful and resonant voice. She does change the final note from the written C5 to high C6. No. 7's movements are labelled with Baroque forms: Preludio, Giga, Tocata, and Fuga. Like No. 4, it is scored for full orchestra using the same techniques. Villa-Lobos' last contribution of Bachianas Brasileiras, No. 9, is a prelude and fugue. Scored for string orchestra, this one evokes Bach the clearest of all.
Choros No. 10 for orchestra, piano, a battery of Brazilian percussion, and chorus is a bit of a different work. The sound is not so romantic, but revels in using dissonance in nearly a Stravinskian manner. Driving tribal rhythms, virtousic passages for individual instruments, and inclusion of a "tribal" chanting chorus make this a miniature magnum opus.
It is hopeful that with this successful recording, that more Villa-Lobos music will become standard fare. The New World Symphony exploit the exoticism and Neo-Baroque/Romanticism fo the works with pinache. The music is very approachable and fun.