Villa-Lobos: Complete Works for Guitar / Frank Bungarten

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Frank Bungarten has taken on a significant task: an entire album of works by legendary Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. The composer's music is lush, complex, and richly textured, which is not a surprise given that Villa-Lobos was classically trained. But Villa-Lobos also incorporated inspiration from music of native Brazilian peoples and African cultures, so one cannot consider him purely a formal art music composer. Thus it takes a very skilled musician to be able to technically master the music and to convey the emotion and rhythms. Bungarten is perhaps most successful in the first set of works, Suite populaire brésilienne, which is a set of five dances. He perfectly captures the feel of each dance: the mazurka lilts, the schottish dances fully as it meets a Brazilian sensibility, and the gavotte is elegant. The Douze Etudes are a set of movements full of richly textured music. Bungarten's playing is very active, athletic, assured, yet also fluid. He is clearly a master of technique. However, after a few movements, the set becomes a bit monotonous, with its odd tonalities; it does indeed begin to feel rather like a set of "studies" indeed, rather than a work that conveys unique emotions and is exciting for the listener. Similarly, the Cinq Préludes are played fully and lushly, but a certain spirit is sometimes missing. Once again, the listener can sense Bungarten's solid, assured technique in "No. 2 Homenagem ao Malandro Carioca," and his graceful phrasing. The Homage to Bach (No. 3) is tender and poignant, and quite enjoyable, like Bach gone Brazilian. Villa-Lobos' music requires rubato, a stretching (in either direction) of the tempo, and Bungarten has a strong grasp of it, as is evident in the fifth prelude. Finally, the album concludes with Chôro No. 1, which is complex both harmonically and rhythmically, but this is no problem for Bungarten. Perhaps it is honest to say that one album of Villa-Lobos is quite a lot to listen to at one sitting and the artist can tend to play some of the pieces in a similar manner. But this does not obscure the fact that Bungarten is a very capable, talented guitarist whose musical strength and technique are very evident.

-- V. Vasan, All Music Guide


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 9051629-6


  • UPC: 760623162966


  • Label: MDG


  • Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos


  • Performer: Frank Bungarten