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Musical Opinion, November 2013

A simply outstanding recording of two magnificent and scandalously neglected music…the music is important, and the performances are superb, as is the recording quality. A truly significant issue. © Musical Opinion

Andy Fawcett
Audiophilia, August 2013

This is the second disc in Naxos’s project to record all of the Villa-Lobos symphonies, appropriately with a Brazilian orchestra and conductor; the recorded perspective is close and dynamic, though still with a vivid sense of space. Anyone with an interest in 20th Century symphonies should certainly check this out. © 2013 Audiophilia Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, July 2013

…Karabtchevsky manages to achieve some fine definition in the biting string figures.

This set, on its own merits, is recommended for the excellent playing of the São Paolo Symphony, which manages to achieve a fine amount of clarity of texture… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Brian Wigman
Classical Net, June 2013

These are magnificently played renditions of some very fine works. Villa-Lôbos doesn’t get nearly the attention he deserves for any of his best music…Many thanks to Naxos then, for supporting such a worthy project.

And speaking of worthy, The São Paulo forces are just dynamite…everything is unbelievably good, and extremely well balanced too. This means that all of the composer’s lush sounds literally rush out of your speakers…

Throughout, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Isaac Karabtchevsky makes as convincing a case for these pieces as can be made. An excellent and wholly worthwhile disc. © 2013 Classical Net Read complete review

Ivan Moody
International Record Review, June 2013

Isaac Karabtchevsky and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra…relish every note of this music and these discs are landmarks in the recorded history of Brazil’s best-known composer. © 2013 International Record Review

David Hurwitz, May 2013

These performances are even better than the first release in this ongoing cycle. The “War” symphony is even livelier than the competition (on CPO), and the strings of the São Paulo Symphony seem quite comfortable with the composer’s strange ostinatos and dense, but often light, textures. Make no mistake, this is not easy music to play, and its relative lack of popularity is easily explained by the dearth of obvious Brazilian folk elements. But these are serious and enjoyable works, and it’s great to see them getting the attention they deserve from the composer’s compatriots. Terrific. © Read complete review

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, May 2013

These new performances present both symphonies in the best possible light, the playing the most refined these works have had on disc. Karabtchevsky knows his Villa-Lobos and clarifies some of the thickly scored textures more convincingly…Karabtchevsky’s tempi are also on the quicker side, which generally suits the music better. …Karabtchevsky leads the way. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, April 2013

These are two very original, mature works that avoid the glib “hurrahs” and “attaboys” that a lesser composer might have been tempted to include. Instead we get complex orchestral tapestries of mystery and elegaic respect.

The performances are strong, the recording sounds quite good; we are given spirited readings of two scores that deserved to be heard more widely. Villa-Lobos is such an important part of the 20th century melange of innovators and here we have two excellent early reasons why that is so. © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Cinemusical, March 2013

The Sao Paulo Symphony certainly performs these works with a deep sense of appreciation for their historical significance in Brazilian musical history. Under Karabtchevsky’s direction, the music’s emotional core is certainly handled with great skill. Clarity of rhythm and interpretive shaping for the music helps also to allow the musical style to shift appropriately through the recording which certainly helps. Fans of Villa-Lobos’ music will certainly need no convincing to pick up this new disc…These are certainly well-performed and committed recordings. The sound is fine as well…Highly recommended and a symphony cycle worth watching! © 2013 Cinemusical Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2013

Though described as the foremost nationalist composer in South America, Heitor Villa-Lobos had not composed anything of lasting value until he was in his late 20s. Even then the description was not that accurate, for while he was to use folk influences in some of his works, his rightful place is among international composers, and that particularly applies to his twelve symphonies. The Third and Fourth were to form a War Triptich with the subtitles, War, Victory and Peace. Whether the last of these was ever completed is unknown, as it was never performed and a score has never been found. Though not officially caught up in the First World War, Brazil’s inability to export coffee brought an end to its reliance on that product for its overseas income. In 1920, two years after hostilities ceased, The King and Queen of Belgium made an official visit and the symphonies were performed. Both are in the conventional four movements, the Third having a descriptive title for each, while the Fourth relies on its overall effect to create the feeling implied by the title. They require a very large orchestra with additional instruments, some of which fall outside the usual symphonic use, while the Third also includes an optional choir not used in this performance. Villa-Lobos orchestrated both scores to create unusual sonorities, though they do not possess the type of melodic input you will readily place in your memory bank. Likened to the music of Respighi, that description does offer a ready guide for the inquisitive. The present release forms part of a complete symphony cycle in newly published definitive scores created under the direction of the conductor, Isaac Karabtchevsky. The Sao Paulo Symphony is a fabulous outfit, and shows once again why it is now regarded among the elite orchestras of the world. Highly recommended in superb sound. © David’s Review Corner

Robert Benson, March 2013

Several months ago this site mentioned a superb new Naxos recording of Symphonies 6 and 7 of Villa-Lobos…Now we have the next installment in the commendable series offering Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4, again played by the remarkable São Paulo Orchestra under Isaac Karabtchevsky. Superb performances of both works, with audio that does full justice to the music. © 2013 Read complete review

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