Finally one good recording of the complete cycle of the Bachianas Brasileiras . The recording conducted by the author was the best recording available , but Villa - Lobos wasn't a good conductor .The musicality is really good, but the orchestra sounds bad in some moments and the sound is very old.After the recordings of several conductors sometimes good sometimes bad, we have here the entire cycle very well played Bachianas Nº 1 , for cellos , was at the beginning one homage to the Preludes And Fugues by Bach, but the author wrote after the first movement.From the Preludes and Fugue now we have the structure of a Concerto. The first Bachianas is the only one condcted by Andrew Mogrelia, since Kenneth Schermerhorn died before the recording finished.Andrew Mogrelia makes a very good Bachianas , by far more musical even comparing with the one of the Cellos of the Berlin Philharmonic. The Second Bachianas is in my opinion the best of the cycle. Villa Lobos puts the voice of the man of the "sertão" in instruments like the sax, the cello and the trombone . Is a music full of sadness, and to understand this music you must read Guimarães Rosa . The recording is amazing. The Third Bachianas is for píano and Orchestra. Naxos had the brilliant idea to invite the excellent Brazilian pianist Feghali , to play this wonderful Music.The result is fantastic . Very slow and very clear. The Fourth Bachianas has two version : for piano ( very well played in another Naxos CD by Sonia Rubinsky)and for Orchestra. Schermerhorn folows the modifications in the violin solo at the Prelude tha Villa Lobos did in his recording. Other fantastic version Naxos had other fantastic idea.For the Fifth Bachianas they invited Rosana Lamosa , one of the leading Brazilian sopranos . Finally we can understand the text (the only one with a perfect Portuguese was Anna Mofo), and we have here one example of the art of one of the leading Brazilian poets : M. Bandeira . The Sixth Bachianas is one return to the Choros. It was Written for two instruments. The soloists of the Nashville Orchestra are excellent musicians. Bachianas 7 and 8 are by far more conservative in structure.Reflex of the involvement of Villa Lobos with the " Estado Novo" by Getulio Vargas. But the fugue of the Bachianas 7 is a good example of the inspiration of the author. The last Bachianas was writtnen for chorus . The difficulty of this version forced the author to transcript it to Strings, and was premiered by my teacher, Eleazar de Carvalho in 1945 . Maybe the Cycle of the Bachianas is Less important than the Cycle of the Choros , but is a very important part of the production of our most important composer.Kenneth Schermerhorn was always one admirer of Villa Lobos. His last recording is one service very useful . Now we can hear this important music well played and well recorded.
Like much of the music of Bach on whom Villa-Lobos modelled these works, the Bachianas Brasilieras are absolute music in the sense that they could probably be played on massed kazoos without their obvious beauty being obscured. I concur with the previous reviewer in that it is No.2, most notably its first movement, that is the most heart melting of all, carrying more of an erotic charge than all of European music put together. It is indeed wonderful to hear these works as a whole after only being acquainted with fragments for so many years. They do indeed work as a very satisfying whole, to the degree that the individual works come across more as movements of that greater whole, rather than integral pieces in their own right. This might well be due to the fact that, while every movement is unquestionably beautiful, there will always be one, perhaps two in each work that hits right between the eyes and gets stamped unforgettably onto the heart at first hearing. Some of these most striking movements can be almost childishly naive, which is not to say that Villa Lobos does not make it abundantly clear elsewhere that he can marshal the full harmonic sophistication of his idol.
As to these particular recordings. Well, I would have given this Naxos set five stars for just making the full works available. However, having acquired and reviewed this set I just happened to do a quick search and discovered that EMI have issued a three disc set of the complete Bachianas Brasilieras, which also happens to include the very fine Guitar Concerto as an extra, Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras. They were at such a competitive price that I pressed the button more or less without hesitation, because I could not help feeling that better performances might yet be had. In this set the No.1 was the last to be recorded, and it was recorded under a different conductor. I get the impression that illness or death on behalf of the main conductor, Kenneth Schermerhorn, necessitated this. I cannot know if this is pertinent but No.1, which is for massed cellos, has a couple of moments of rather exposed ropy playing, just enough to slightly mar the process of settling down to this sumptuous feast. Fortunately, I can say that there are no repetitions of this throughout the remainder of the set. What does seem to be the case to me however, is that we spend all our time either pianissimo or bursting upwards into big, fat tuttis with not a lot of dynamic shades in between. Maybe I do the conductor an injustice. Maybe what I hear is true to Villa Lobos markings, but in scores packed with sumptuous details it seems that much of the detail is swept away under rather undifferentiated brass, and I can definitely imagine these pieces benefiting from a little more delicacy of approach.
The alternate EMI set arrived and it was immediately obvious that the new set is streets ahead of this Naxos set in terms of performance, and is also a very fine recording to boot. And slightly cheaper. So I am left with this Naxos box which seemed entirely redundant until I came to compare the respective 2nd movements of No.4, one of those particularly heart breking ones. Schermerhorn on Naxos takes it somewhat faster than Enrique Batiz for EMI, and thus possesses a breathless, nostalgic quality distinct from the rather more noble reading of Batiz. They are both impossibly beautiful in different ways, and this difference has rescued the Naxos set from the charity shop. Perhaps, over time and with further listenings I will find other favourable points of comparison but at this point my recommendation is for the EMI set as the way ahead first choice. Perhaps I should say that this is in no way a snub of Naxos who are the Penguin of music and who carry out a wonderful service to culture by making available whole swathes of repertoire that the more commercially oriented labels would not touch, and who also make excellent renditions of the more mainstream repertoire available at budget prices whilst giving exposure to many lesser known musicians and soloists who would otherwise never get their chance. Sometimes however, Naxos don't quite hist the mark, and in my humble opinion this is one such case.
First of all, I wanna say that I 'm a classical music fan but I can't say that I'm an expert. I 've heard the No5 and No6 of Bachianas Brasileiras and I fell in love with it. When I surched for the whole Bachianas Brasileiras in my local music shop I realized that it was a difficult task. You can find some parts in one cd but not the complete work. Not to mention that the prizes were extremely high. Fortunatelly, after a small search in the Amazon.com I came up with this beautiful 3cd package of Naxos's "Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras by Nashville Symphony Orchestra". The music is divine, the recording is great. The introduction, description and small C.V.s of the musicians in the booklet inside is very helpful. Most of all, the prize, it's a steal! I 'm defenetelly recomend this for everyone who would like an introduciton (like me) to Villa-Lobos's work.