Villa-Lobos Choros, Vol 3

A rousing chôros of approval for Neschling and his São Paulo players

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Heitor Villa-Lobos

Label: BIS

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

Stereo
DDD

Catalogue Number: BIS-CD1520

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Introduction to the Chôros Fabio Zanon
Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
John Neschling
Chôros No. 2 Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer
Ovanir Buosi
Elizabeth Plunk
Chôros No. 3, 'Picapau' São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra Choir
John Neschling
Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer
Chôros No. 12 São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer
John Neschling
Chôros bis Claudio Cruz
Johannes Gramsch
Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer
Chôros No. 10, 'Rasga o coração' Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer
John Neschling
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra Choir
John Neschling has no equal in this repertoire and it’s fortunate for us that he completed his cycle of Villa-Lobos’s Chôros before a reportedly unhappy split with the São Paulo SO earlier this year. Neschling has often rescued Villa-Lobos from himself, looking benevolently at his elephantine orchestration, thinning and rebalancing where necessary, to reveal the 12-part Chôros as the unheralded imaginative leap they were. But evidently not much can be done about his gaudy lapses of taste.

As an example: compare Chôros No 3 with No 10. The earlier work, for male voices and wind instruments, is anchored around a breezy melodic hook that in a different context might have been a showstopper. In comparison, No 10 feels ludicrously overcooked, especially in the closing minutes as a choir evokes Red Indian chanting with all the subtlety of a John Wayne film. The work is meant to portray the primitive world and the information overload of competing orchestral strata in its opening moments is invigorating: in the same piece, Villa-Lobos slides from elevated invention towards banality – Neschling makes it hang together, and the kinetic vivacity of the orchestral playing is mesmerising.

Two chamber Chôros – one for violin and cello, another for flute and clarinet – testify to the brilliance of Villa-Lobos’s counterpoint when he wasn’t trying to be overly fancy. Introduction to the Chôros, too, is delightful because there’s no compositional grandstanding. The 40-minute Chôros No 12 is bigger-than-life, and a mess as it buckles under the weight of clashing styles and schizoid mood-changes. But it’s a sonic spectacle: with Villa-Lobos you quickly learn to take the rough with the smooth.

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