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George Dorris
Ballet Review, March 2016

…[Uirapuru] has elements of Stravinsky’s Firebird as the titular bird becomes a young man when hit by a woman warrior’s arrow, then returns to a bird when shot again. But the idiom remains Villa-Lobos’ own, with those Brazilian rhythms and his brilliant orchestration.

The attractive Symphony No. 12 of 1957 is comparatively conventional, while still having an indigenous feel, especially in the hushed Adagio, lively Scherzo, and exuberant finale. Although Mandu-Çarará…is called a ballet, it’s really a brief cantata celebrating Mandu-Çarará, the god of dance exemplified in its powerful rhythms. © 2016 Ballet Review

Steve Holtje
Culture Catch, January 2016

Best Classical Albums 2015

Having acquired early in life an antipathy to Villa-Lobos’s (1887–1959) most popular works, the Bachianas Brasileiras, I’d since then paid no attention to his music. Then this CD came in the mail and impressed me. It seems like I’ve been missing out on some very colorful composing all these years and at the least I should track down Karabtchevsky’s earlier volumes in this cycle. © 2016 Culture Catch

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, November 2015

Villa-Lobos’s Symphony No. 12 and the tone poem Uirapuru are beautifully played and recorded in the best issue so far in Naxos’s excellent São Paulo series. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Mel Martin
Audiophile Audition, September 2015

For the São Paulo Symphony, the music of Villa-Lobos is like coming home and celebrating a native son. They play with exuberance and passion. The program is filled with colorful, evocative music, with striking percussion and Latin rhythms.

Lovers of Villa-Lobos will certainly enjoy this disc. Classical novices are also likely to find it a compelling listen. The stereo recording has nice, realistic separations, and the presentation sounds very ‘live’ and it’s not an overly miked recording. © 2015 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, September 2015

The São Paulo Symphony has grown into one of the world’s finest recording orchestras, and enjoys a well established Villa-Lobos tradition. Their performance of the Symphony is as disciplined and pointed as you would expect. Orchestral balance is exemplary, as are all the solo decorations that adorn the musical texture. To my mind, this is the most enjoyable release so far in Naxos’s Villa-Lobos symphony series. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review

Stuart Sillitoe
MusicWeb International, June 2015

The singing of the São Paulo Symphony Choir and Children’s Choir is…excellent, with the juxtaposition between the adults and children working well. Good…recorded sound also add to the enjoyment of this fine recording. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, June 2015

This is one spectacular and fascinating CD. Villa-Lobos’s music, deeply rooted in the Brazilian tradition, is so full of imagination that one is stunned by the succession of musical ideas. Conducted by Isaac Karabtchevsky, the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra gives us an idiomatic and thrilling reading of the three works. © 2015 Pizzicato

Robert Benson, June 2015

…the superb São Palo Symphony Orchestra directed by Isaac Karabtchevsky…seem to be having a great, boisterous time. An intriguing, unusual CD, highly recommended. © 2015 Read complete review

Cinemusical, May 2015


The opening piece is well played. The final piece certainly brings us back to more familiar musical territory with lots of color and is well recorded. Overall, an interesting release for Villa-Lobos enthusiasts… © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2015

There is nothing lacking in the recordings, the performances and the quality of the compositions. Anyone seeking to understand Villa-Lobos will be well-served by the album, as indeed will those who already love his music like I do.

Excellent. More than worth the modest investment. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Stephen Smoliar, April 2015

…what is most interesting about this album is that it demonstrates how [Villa-Lobos’s] final symphony can still evoke those Brazilian impressions that had such a great impact when he first revealed those materials to European listeners. In that respect providing the earlier “Uirapuru” as an “overture” to the symphony creates a particularly informative then-and-now context for the listener…and there is nothing “B-level” about the evocatively rich sonorities that arise when Villa-Lobos extends his full orchestra with choral resources. © 2015 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2015

This symphonic cycle of the music of the Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, is one of the most important documents of 20th century Latin American music. That he is usually described as ‘the foremost nationalist composer in South America’, has really done nothing to secure his rightful place among the major international composers of his era. Maybe the Twelfth, and last of his symphonies, is not the most profound or inspired of his eleven works in the genre that has survived, and at times it does sound like a patchwork of ideas. Its slow movement sounds so much at odds with the pleasing aspects that surround it, particularly the bubbly scherzo that follows. We largely move to Hollywood for the finale, as you can imagine some scenario in the big outdoors of California. Its orchestration at times falls awkwardly under the fingers of the strings, a fact that cannot be concealed by the outstanding São Paulo orchestra. What he could have achieved in his life comes from his younger days in Paris, with a score to a story intended for a ballet, Uirapuru. It takes its name from the magical Brazilian bird, and contains a whole gambit of subtle shades, with the solo flute taking the part of the bird. The score is as magical as that bird. Mandu-Carara is, in part, a secular cantata that contrasts an adult and a children’s choir, the score relating a quite gruesome story I am not about to relate. Set that aside and the performance is compelling. Very good sound quality. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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