SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS: Complete Solo Works for Guitar – Suite populaire bresilienne; Douze Etudes (1928); Cinq Preludes (1940); Choros No. 1 – Frank Bungarten, guitar – Multichannel SACD (2+2+2) MDG Gold
Published on October 15, 2010
HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS: Complete Solo Works for Guitar – Suite populaire bresilienne; Douze Etudes (1928); Cinq Preludes (1940); Choros No. 1 – Frank Bungarten, guitar – Multichannel SACD (2+2+2) MDG Gold MDG 905 1629-6, 74:49 [Distrib. by Koch] *****:
I always look forward to the Villa-Lobos selections on guitar recitals. His works seem to be so pertinent to the instrument, as well as filled with fresh new ideas that mix Afro-Brazilian elements with the standards of European classical guitar works. Villa-Lobos quickly became the most important Latin American composer, and probably still is. In fact he’s one of the few non-European composers who is still popular with music lovers.
Although cello was the young Villa-Lobos’ main instrument, his second instrument was the guitar, which he taught himself to play. He played it in choro groups, and this folk musical form informs many of his works. His music is full of powerful rhythms, and his chordal colors and dissonances were inspired by his impressions of the wild nature of the Amazon region.
The Suite populaire consists of five early pieces in which Villa-Lobos was fitting the choro style to the guitar. The Douze Etudes came after his first stay in Paris, and it is the only guitar work he thought of as a cycle. The material derives from the tonal and technical nature of the guitar while speaking Villa-Lobos unique tonal language. Guitarist Bungarten had access to his original manuscript and found in it a deeper understanding of the work, free of the inexact and arbitrary editions which were later published. The Five Preludes constitute a return to the style of earlier periods. Hints of choros as well as Bach are heard in them.
Villa-Lobos created in his music an independent cultural identity of a non-European continent, and gave the guitar a popular and innovative repertory which is beautifully performed for us on this SACD, and in superbly-natural surround sonics. Why says surround doesn’t aid the reproduction of a single small solo instrument? The two-channel hi-res version sounds terrific, but flat.
– John Sunier