Saturday, August 27, 2022

Great Classical Music from Brazil

Brasil em Concerto: music by Nepomuceno, Villa-Lobos, Guarnieri, Guerra-Peixe, Santoro, Almeida Prado

This six-disc box set, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Brazil, continues the excellent Music of Brazil series from Naxos. We continue to learn more about Brazilian classical composers other than Heitor Villa-Lobos, though the Villa disc (which I reviewed here) is quite wonderful. Another disc I've reviewed recently was a real eye-opener for me: César Guerra-Peixe's Symphonic Suites and Roda.

Standouts from the other five discs include two Claudio Santoro symphonies: the 5th and 7th, subtitled 'Brasilia'. The latter reminds us that Villa-Lobos died just five months before the unveiling of the country's new capital on April 21, 1960, and he would have been the natural composer for this kind of symphony.

Oscar Niemeyer, the designer of much of Brasilia and its buildings, was one of Brazil's great modernist artists who made a big splash on the world stage in its second century. Another was, of course, Villa-Lobos, while a third was a friend of Villa's, the painter Candido Portinari. It's fitting that Naxos has featured a Portinari painting on the cover of this box set, "The Tree of Life", from 1957. A country's culture is, of course, so much richer than just the output of its artistic giants; this valuable set gives us a much better, more rounded, view of the music of Brazil.

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