Heitor Villa-Lobos, VILLA-LOBOS: Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 2-4

Brian Wise

By Brian Wise

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A little bit of Brazil, a little bit of Bach.

Just as Antonio Carlos Jobim was the global face of bossa nova in the '60s, Villa-Lobos was Brazil's leading composer for the concert hall. His series of nine “Bachianas Brasileiras," written for various combinations of instruments and voices, reflect both his Brazilian heritage and a lifelong admiration for the music of J.S. Bach. Although these works periodically turn up on major American orchestra programs, to hear them played by a Brazilian orchestra is a delight. Robert Minczuk, a São Paulo-born, Juilliard-trained conductor, leads his hometown orchestra in elegant, incisive readings of Nos. 2-4. The performance of Number 2 catches your ear with its native Brazilian percussion instruments like the ganzá and chocalhos, while Number 3 ends with an evocation of a Brazilian picapau, or woodpecker. Number 4, the most popular of the bunch, features lush and elegant romanticism that would have made Gershwin envious.