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CD Review

Heitor Villa-Lôbos

Cello Concertos

  • Cello Concerto #2
  • Grande Concerto for Cello, Op. 50
Ulrich Schmid, cello
Northwest German Philharmonic Orchestra/Dominique Roggen
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG3210339-2 43m DDD
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The popularity of Heitor Villa-Lôbos (1887-1959) seems to suffer from an ebb and flow attitude that is, to say the least, puzzling as I find his music extremely accessible and in most instances, charmingly mature.

The two works on this disc reveal Villa-Lôbos' intimate knowledge of the technical prowess of the cello, and both pieces, although 38 years apart, are full of colourful orchestration, spontaneity of invention and strong rhythmic energy. These elements, combined with spirited Latin melodies and a highly skilled compositional ability bring to the fore, the composer's mastery for the concerto genre, something for which he is less renowned.

Both concerti are written for a large orchestra and the solo instrument is enmeshed into the total sound with the acumen of genius. Ulrich Schmid's natural feel for these works is highly apparent in his virtuosic yet singing renditions and with Roggen and the Northwest German Philharmonic giving passionate yet sympathetic support, the music is served with the advocacy it deserves.

Although recorded in 1988, sound and balance are exemplary. This is a thoroughly enjoyable CD although one must comment on the excessively stingy playing time of 43 minutes which is certainly not enough in today's days of endless CD and DVD timings.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech