Villa-Lobos: Symphony No 12; Uirapuru; Mandu-Çarará

Reviewed on Fri 15 May, 2015

Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) was nothing if not prolific and he commanded an extensive orchestral palette as well as a penchant for powerful and vivid declaration. Forty years separate Uirapuru and Symphony No 12 (his final such work, from 1957). The former is kaleidoscopic, full of suggestion and rainbow-colours, as vibrant as it is soulful, and rhythmically Rite-like as part of an engagingly theatrical experience. The Symphony may have four compact movements, and even approach Classical concision, but it is generously rich and emotionally impassioned, sun-drenched too, with opportunities for private musing and poignancy. Mandu-Ҫarará (1940) requires adult and children’s voices in music that is folksy and witty, and story-telling intense, developing a pulsating and indigenous head of steam. The performances and recording are excellent, and if the music has its excesses, then this is life lived to the full. The booklet includes the cantata’s Portuguese words and English translation.
–Colin Anderson