Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Symphony No. 3 (1919)
Symphony No. 9 (1952)
Ouverture de l'Homme Tel (1952)
SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart/Carl St Clair
Rec March 1998 (Symphony No. 3), July 1999 (Symphony No. 9), April 2000 (Ouverture), Stadthalle Sindelfingen
CPO 999 712 2 [61.25]


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This is the latest instalment in a CPO project to record all the Villa Lobos symphonies. These compositions are well worth our time and trouble, make no mistake. Although not noted as one of the great 20th century symphonists, the Brazilian master has the measure of orchestral writing, nor does he lack imagination.

The Symphony No. 3 of 1919 was the first of a trilogy of works inspired by the First World War. The direct results of this source of inspiration can be found in recurring fanfare figures and an indulgent tell-tale quotation of the Marseillaise. There is no specific programme however, only this clear indication of the side Villa-Lobos supported. This is an occasional piece, in the sense that it makes a direct impact upon the listener, but the nature of the material may not benefit from repeated hearings. That said, there are substantial strengths of a musical nature, not least the powerful, strongly argued slow movement, which reaches a noble climax. The Stuttgart Orchestra play this with urgent commitment and full tone. The recorded sound is also at its best in this movement, elsewhere it can be a little lacking in bloom.

Composers often move towards a more concentrated approach in the later part of their careers, and so it proves here. The Ninth Symphony is around a half the length of the Third, coming in at less than twenty minutes. There is a neo-classical flavour about this music, though the rich textured harmonies deny any direct sense of pastiche. It is in the rhythmic vitality and the closely argued symphonic development of this piece that Villa-Lobos succeeds.

It is a rare composer indeed who avoids the temptation to revive earlier compositions by reusing the material in a new context. Contemporary with the Ninth Symphony, the Ouverture de l'Homme Tel is actually a reworking of material from a surrealist song cycle of 1929, now purely orchestral. It is less compelling than the symphonies, but rhythmically it holds a good deal of interest. Here, as elsewhere, the performance is good without being outstanding.

Terry Barfoot



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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