Bachianas Brasileiras nos. 1 & 5
Desafio XXXII; Songs Op. 21bis, 87 & 88
Arizcuren with Pilar Jurado (soprano)
Channel Classics CCS
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Villa-Lobos composed the first and fifth of his Bachianas Brasileiras
for eight celli, a curiosity at that time. Elias Arizcuren, Spanish
born cellist, developed his permanent ensemble of eight celli based in Amsterdam,
and from experiencing them live in Strasbourg [reviewed in
October 1999] I can vouch for the viability of this medium for the expressive
needs of many contemporary composers.
They have half a dozen CDs with Channel Classics, mainly original commissions,
a few arrangements. This is the latest and besides the two key works by
Villa-Lobos it features the most important Brazilian composer of the next
generation, Marlos Nobre. The singer Pilar Jurado has collaborated
with them in an earlier CD, but I preferred this one. The only snag, and
it is a serious one, is that the texts of the poems, by Lorca and others,
are given only in the original Spanish.
The famous Aria in Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 is given a lovely rendering
and the balance is good, the singer not too forward. No 1 is perhaps even
more interesting, with an equally beautiful slow central Modinha and
a fugue to finish.
Nobre is an attractive composer, though his music inclines to the
traditional rather than being especially innovative. His Cancoes de Beiramar
and Cancoes negras reflect all the elements of Brazilian folk music.
His1998 Canto a Lorca Op 87, composed for Conjunto Iberico, has a
highly dramatic solo voice part. Desafio XXXII is a virtuoso piece for the
ensemble alone, based on a Basque competitive tradition, characterised by
an improvisatory character.
Well played and vividly recorded, as are all the recordings by this ensemble,
it can be recommended with the above reservation for non-Spanish speaking
Details of the other Channel Classics recordings with Cello Octet Conjunto
Iberico can be found on their website:
Peter Grahame Woolf