Heitor Villa-L˘bos is understandably, Brazil's greatest composer. Born in 1887, he worked indefatigably to put his country's musical heritage on the world stage and by the time of his death in 1959, his output was prodigious.
His works number well over a thousand and many of them have attained a strong popularity. His style is a mixture of folklore and traditional rhythms interspersed with the European neo classical sound world which was starting to emerge when Villa-L˘bos was still in his teens.
This 2-CD set is dedicated to a rather obscure but fascinating angle of his repertoire, the works for solo voice. The composer's rich palette of colours and shifting dynamics is very much to the fore, revealing a passionate love for his country and his art.
The Italian soprano, Anna Maria Bondi sings like a woman possessed, capturing all the magical nuances of these very difficult but beguiling scores. The pianist Françoise Petit and 'Les Solistes de Paris' give wonderfully polished performances and their support, ably guided by Henri-Claude Fantapie, is consistently balanced and refined. Sound quality is not always exemplary, but by far and large I have little qualms as to the general level of engineering. This is a collection of seductive and intriguing pieces from one of the greatest composers ever to come out of Latin America.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech