Customer Reviews


3 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Head of the Pack, 10 Mar 2013
By 
Nobody "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Villa-Lobos: Symphonies 3 & 4 (War And Victory) (Isaac Karabtchevsky, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.573151) (Audio CD)
Who would have thought few years ago that we would have multiple recordings of Villa-Lobos' symphonies to compare but here we are with a series that looks like being the best yet. The Carl St.Clair series on CPO was the one to beat and there was little to choose between his and Karabtchevsky's 6th and 7th with St Clair incisive and Kabatchevsky more expansive. These two earlier symphonies very much benefit from Karabtchevsky's expansiveness that sacrifices nothing of the works rhythmic and harmonic vitality.

These early "war" symphonies owe much to Debussy's modal harmonies without ever sounding like Debussy. Both symphonies have some of the feel of the russian nationalists: the colour of Rimsky Korsakov and the modal harmonies of Mussorgsky. the Scherzo of the third even has a hint of Vaughan Williams about it.

The overt passion and colour here is at odds with the muted European responses to World War I; think also of Nielsen's great Fifth, for example or Vaughan Williams' Pastoral. Few would paint their colours so plainly to the mast as Villa Lobos does - he's cheering on France all the way! The French anthem is repeated several times across both symphonies. This is war drama played out from a safe distance: not particularly subtle or profound but fine music all the same; wonderfully orchestrated, structurally sound, harmonically and thematically memorable.

Even so these quite broad readings provide some genuinely moving passages with the slow lament in the Third Symphony particularly impressive. The opening two movements don't descend to melodrama either with the war references not swamping the musical argument. The finale, admittedly, does throw in the kitchen sink, but then, according to the movement subtitles this is where the battle begins. There are super impositions of the French and Brazilian anthems and a clammer that veers between Mahler's Sixth and many of Charles Ives's densest works. This finale could ruin the balance of the whole were it not for the coupling that makes it seem part of a sequence as the opening movement of the Fourth sets off from this very starting point, albeit more fleet of foot. Sat together these two symphonies complement each other very well and the CPO alternative couplings make with later more neo classical symphonies are less illuminating. It is tantillising to think how the lost Fifth symphony might have sounded and how many thematic connections there may have been with the other two. The Third doesn't feel a complete work to me but playing the two works continuously has the feel of one bigger symphony, sharing thematic material: in other words, a symphony in eight movements. If the third is quite pictorial the Fourth is more thematically integrated whilst still allowing for viivd passages and transformations: think of the distant playful band changing the lugubrious mood in the finale; it's magical.

The Fourth Symphony carries less of the emotional drama that the Third does but conflicts here are being resolved albeit not in an overly triumphalist way. Karabtchevsky's broad approach makes more sense of the Fourth than the preceding versions with Diemecke's perfunctory approach on Dorian with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra sounding like a completely different and immature piece. The supposedly demonstration sound on that recording only made the brass sound thin and artificial. This Naxos recording, without being quite demonstration quality (still very good though), allows instruments and the orchestra as a whole more space to breathe and the symphony is so much more effective as a result.

Villa-Lobos' symphonies are often dense and the later ones use shorter, more elusive motifs than the earlier ones. For that reason the early symphonies presented here might be a good starting point for curious listeners. In all his symphonies though, repeated listening show that however much he flouted symphonic formal rules, Villa Lobos certainly knew what he was doing and the whole makes sense. Isaac Karabtchevsky is keenly aware of the music's architecture and with the aid of a fine orchestra and spacious sound he appears to be producing the best series to date. Villa-Lobos was no symphonic light weight and those critics that dismiss his music as rather uneven are guilty of dismissing it simply because there's just so much of it to get through: how many other composers could claim to be entirely consistent in quality anyway? Often the dullest ones. No serious lover of the symphony should ignore this series. So, if you haven't already, give these symphonies a chance and make this Naxos series your place to begin. I notice too that the download price for this recording is less than half of that for the 6th and 7th so there's another reason to snap it up: And, no, Naxos aren't paying me to say this!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent reading from Sao Paolo, 3 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Villa-Lobos: Symphonies 3 & 4 (War And Victory) (Isaac Karabtchevsky, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.573151) (Audio CD)
Straight to the point, the performances and recording are excellent. Without a doubt Karabtchewsky has a flair for this music and his team score well on everything.

At this price, I recommend the disc without hesitation.

These symphonies were composed early in VL's career (both in 1919): the sleeve notes suggest that he was still finding his feet - true inasmuch as a composer develops a mature style over a period of time rather than has it at the outset. Even so, they are full of the trademarks of the mature composer, polyrhythm, dense polyphony, performance difficulties and his way with moments of evocative calm . With his later symphonies he concerned himself more with form more than sound effects but here is his through-composed Braziliana with echoes of distant forests, sometimes not so distant, alongside (brief) quotes from the French and Brazilian national anthems in Symphony 3.

Though I wouldn't describe them as the best introduction to Villa-Lobos, they are easy going, No.3 easier than No.4 (which is comparatively shorter). The opening movement of No.3 seeming almost pastoral. The slow movement is delicate, hardly war-like but the other movements are pretty energetic. No.4 seems to ramble somewhat particularly in the first movement. It's in this work that he makes full use of the huge orchestra he demands. It is nonetheless perfectly listenable and worth a couple of auditions to acclimatise. The recording manages to balance the many lines of the texture credibly well. It must be an absolute headache for the engineers.

The only other recordings with which I'm familiar are the St. Clair. Of the No.4, Villa-Lobos himself conducted a performance that I'm told is fairly clumsy, and Diaz with the Simon Bolivar which I have yet to hear. Karabtchewsky compares very well with St. Clair. There is little to choose. Neither is better, just different in subtle ways. With the contrapuntal texture so dense in parts of No.4, St. Clair seems to make more detail evident. But it's in those quiet moments that Karabtchewsky proves his supreme mastery. A compelling addition to any Villa-Lobos collection.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Villa-Lobos: Symphonies 3 & 4, 4 April 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Villa-Lobos: Symphonies 3 & 4 (War And Victory) (Isaac Karabtchevsky, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.573151) (Audio CD)
Excellent performances of these works. Some lush music here from Villa-Lobos and well worth the money. If you like Villa-Lobos then you'll like this disc.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews