Although he composed in every genre, I imagine only the operas of Heitor Villa-Lobos are less known than his choral music. To remedy that, a British conductor leads a German chorus in an album of short works by the Brazilian master, showcasing the styles he used through his career, going from the "Ave Maria" of 1918 (the fourth of ten times he set that text) through to the 1950s. (He died in 1959.) Three of the pieces are first recordings: the jaunty "Jose," written for the men of the Yale Glee Club, a set of decidedly unliturgical "Prayers Without Words" (also for men), and a choral transcription of a Bach prelude and fugue. Oh my, can these folks sing! The sopranos are a teeny bit edgy on some of the highest notes, but the composer doesn't give them an easy part, especially considering that some of this music was actually intended for student choruses.
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