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Phillip Scott
Fanfare, November 2017

The São Paulo recordings of the symphonies look to be setting a new standard: They boast of using revised scores from the orchestra’s library, with editorial revisions overseen by Karabtchevsky, a noted Villa-Lobos advocate and specialist. As good as the previous complete set from the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra was, with conductor Carl St. Clair, it was recorded in the late 1990s, at a time when several of Villa-Lobos’s symphonic scores were getting their first airing since the original premieres. The Stuttgart orchestra did a tremendous job, but the scores themselves were often still in a messy state, and the music was certainly unfamiliar to the players. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, by contrast, has performed and recorded a great deal of the Brazilian master’s music and knows his style intimately. The players and Karabtchevsky seem to grasp instinctively that cello lines must be rich, woodwind decorations must be chirpy, the piccolo in particular must be present in the texture, and that when all the apparently disparate elements combine successfully the result must sound not only clean and cohesive but also inevitable. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, September 2017

…Maestro Karabtchevsky and the OSESP give us recently updated versions of all three symphonies. The playing is superb, and these musicians give virtuoso accounts of the many solos that surface throughout this rarely heard music.

Brilliantly scored, the instrumental timbre is characterized by titillating highs, a natural midrange and lean, clean bass. There are occasional touches of “digitalis” in the upper strings, but all things considered, this CD is demonstration quality. © 2017 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review



Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, August 2017

This Naxos cycle with Karabtchevsky and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra presents the symphonies in editions revised and corrected by the performers.

The music is performed here with a freshness nourished by long and sensibly separated recording sessions. The sound benefits from a resonant concert space, one which the SPSO and Karabatchevsky must know intimately. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Andrew Farach-Colton
Gramophone, August 2017

The São Paolo Symphony face the many challenges admirably—that mad dash at the end of the Eighth is managed with remarkable finesse—and, …Isaac Karabtchevsky’s sure-footed pacing conveys a deeper understanding of these scores. He also has the orchestra playing in better tune than St Clair’s, which makes an enormous difference in music as finely shaded as this. An absolutely essential release. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, July 2017

Isaac Karabtchevsky has a genuine feeling for Villa-Lobos’s music, and the symphonies, kind of stepchildren among the composer’s works, benefit from the conductor’s knowledge of the traditional music and their specific colours and rhythms which influenced Villa-Lobos. The Sao Paulo Symphony’s playing is vivid and inspired. © 2017 Pizzicato



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, July 2017

All three of these symphonies have much to offer the listener, and they are given superb performances by this dedicated orchestra and conductor… © 2017 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review




Andrew Clements
The Guardian, June 2017

Unlike the ambitious, choral 10th Symphony, which is the odd work out in this late sequence, Symphonies 8, 9 and 11 are all compact, well-behaved pieces, fundamentally neoclassical. There’s none of the wild unruliness that makes the best of Villa-Lobos’s music so attractive. But though there are hints of Stravinsky and even Roussel in some of the writing, there’s never anything derivative about it. Villa-Lobos always remain himself, whatever style he adopts or musical material he makes use of. © 2017 The Guardian Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2017

The fifth release in the complete symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos from the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra takes in three works composed during in the 1950s. Describing him as ‘Latin America’s greatest composer’ does him no favours on the international scene, as by the time he was writing his major symphonies during the time he had spent living and working in Paris and the United States, the three symphonies on this release being written for and commissioned by major North American orchestras. He was, however, a lone voice that omitted any reference to the Second Viennese School, but was in an unusual melodic language that is not always readily accessible. If you sample the disc by starting at the third movement of the Eighth, you would be taken by the mercurial charm of this busy scherzo, and you will enjoy the energy of the finale. Two years later, in 1952, the Ninth avoids any comparison with the edificial ninth symphonies that had gone before and were established as landmarks in the concert repertoire, but instead offers a busy and often lightweight score that is one of his shortest, yet requires a degree of orchestral brilliance and virtuosity to surround an adagio movement of pastoral beauty. The Eleventh, dating from 1955, is a more rugged score, punctuated by a sombre Largo, the work acting as a precursor to the substantive Twelfth. This is another outstanding release from the São Paulo orchestra, who has been awarded the Brazilian Music Prize for the series thus far. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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