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Bachianas Brasileiras nos. 1 & 5


Desafio XXXII
; Songs Op. 21bis, 87 & 88
Cello Octet
Conjunto Iberico/Elias Arizcuren with Pilar Jurado (soprano)
Channel Classics CCS 15598 61'58"

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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 S&H 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 collectors.

Details of the other Channel Classics recordings with Cello Octet Conjunto Iberico can be found on their website:


Peter Grahame Woolf



Peter Grahame Woolf

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