Villa-Lobos: Symphonies No 6 & 7 / Karabtchevsky, Sao Paulo SO
The Sixth Symphony features a gimmick: its principal thematic ideas were supposedly derived from superimposing a topographical map of Brazil on music paper and reducing the mountainous outline to musical ideas. The result, as you might guess, has a certain unmelodic rise and fall, but Villa-Lobos doesn’t worry too much about that, and after making his initial point the rest of the music sounds, well, normal (for him). Symphony No. 7 is one of his most impressive large works, scored for a huge orchestra and loaded with those characteristic gestures—divided violins, low trombone chords, chattering wind ostinatos—that will be instantly familiar to anyone who knows and loves his music.
CPO has a fine complete symphony cycle available featuring Carl St. Clair and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. You might think that having native players, as here, constitutes an advantage, but that’s not necessarily the case. Isaac Karabtchevsky recorded the least compelling version of the complete Bachianas Brasileiras, but that was a few decades ago with a very inferior Brazil Symphony Orchestra. The São Paulo Symphony is a much finer ensemble, and Karabtchevsky’s performances are far more persuasive here. He’s different enough from St. Clair, marginally slower but arguably to the music’s advantage in the numerous thickly textured passages, that there’s no reason not to collect this new series. The sonics are rich, full, and remarkably clear given the music’s density. This is going to be fun.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 8573043
Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Conductor: Isaac Karabtchevsky
Orchestra/Ensemble: Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra