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  • Villa-Lobos: Complete String Quartets [CD+DVD]
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Villa-Lobos: Complete String Quartets [CD+DVD] Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, June 30, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This exciting set, encompassing all 17 string quartets by the extraordinary Brazilian
composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), is a milestone collection of what most
scholars have called 'the most important contribution in this field by a Latin American
composer'. The beautifully boxed set is also the first time all of the quartets have
been made available as an integral release. Performed by Cuarteto Latinoamericano,
recognized world-wide as the preeminent ensemble focusing on Latin American
music, the recordings have received universal critical acclaim as well as a GRAMMY
nomination for 'Best Chamber Music Performance' and a Latin GRAMMY. It is
only fitting that this spectacular boxed set is being released in celebration of the
composer's monumental musical achievements on the 50th anniversary of his passing.
Along with the 6 CDs the set includes a DVD with a full performance of Quartet number one as well as interviews with the ensemble about
Villa-Lobos and their connection with the Music .
Villa-Lobos - It has become almost commonplace to say that the musical output of Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is as vast, varied, and
exuberant as the Amazon rain forest, which was his life-long inspiration. This is a picturesque analogy, but it certainly rings true: in the catalogue
of Villa-Lobos, which comprises more than 2,000 works, we find an astonishing variety of forms, genres, and modes of expression that bear
witness to the composer's inquisitive and adventuresome spirit. The sheer number of string quartets penned by Villa-Lobos is remarkable in
itself: they are seventeen in all, written over a period of forty-two years, and they undoubtedly represent the most important contribution in the
genre by a Latin American composer.
Formed in 1982, Cuarteto Latinoamericano is known worldwide as the leading proponent of Latin American music for string quartet. This
award-winning ensemble from Mexico consists of the three Bitrán brothers, violinists Saúl and Arón and cellist Alvaro, along with violist Javier
Montiel. The Cuarteto has recorded most of the Latin American repertoire for string quartet, and the sixth volume of their Villa-Lobos 17
quartets cycle, recorded for Dorian, was nominated for a GRAMMY® award in 2002 in the field of Best Chamber Music Performance as well
as for a Latin Grammy.


Myself, I'd spring for a 6-CD box not on the ArkivMusic list: Villa-Lobos: The Complete String Quartets (Dorian Sono Luminus DSL-90904). Definitively performed by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, these 17 quartets are ablaze with vigor, color, and an incredible variety of expression. Complete with a bonus DVD that includes Villa-Lobos' first string quartet from 1915 and an interview with the artists, this technicolor set is a special treat.

The set contains several surprises, not least of which is that the first CD lists 12 tracks, while I'm currently listening to track 14. (Hmmm.) I don't know what I'm listening to, but one of the mystery tracks is heart-touching, and the other indulges in 1950s spikiness while brimming over with melodic invention. -- San Francisco Classical Voice, Jason Victor Serinus, November 2009

Product Details

  • Performer: Cuarteto Latinoamericano
  • Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
  • Audio CD (June 30, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B0027ZD0NK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,936 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
Kinda like Forrest Gump - Shrimp, any way you want it.
J. A. Van Sant
Newly remastered, Dorian's already very good sound quality now reaches reference levels.
Jeffery M. Brown
The middle quartets are clearly the work of the composer of Bachianas Brasileiras.
E. S. Wilks

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dean Frey on August 7, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"The writing is crazy, but it has a point. It's the added salsa and when you play the quartets you have to make them spicy." - first violinist Saúl Bitrán

From 1995 to 2001, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano recorded all 17 of the Villa-Lobos string quartets. These were released on the Dorian label on six individual CDs, with two or three pieces on each disc, often with early, middle, and late works mixed together for variety. The performances were hailed by most critics as the definitive performances, which is saying quite a bit. Villa's string quartets were already well-served on CD, with complete cycles by the Bessler-Reis quartet on (the late, lamented) Brazilian label Kuarup, and by the Danubius Quartet on Marco Polo. There were also recordings of individual works by the Brazilian String Quartet, the Stuyvesant String Quartet, and the Hollywood String Quartet, among others.

As good as some of those other performances are, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano _own_ these works; they are the best advocates I know for this amazing music.

Now Dorian has put together a box-set of the six CDs, remastered and nicely packaged. The Dorian CDs always sounded great, and their remastering for this set polishes things up so you feel even more in the presence of the musicians. Dorian has added a seventh disc: a DVD of the group performing #01, and an interview with the musicians talking about Villa-Lobos and his music. There's a really excellent booklet with valuable notes by Juan Arturo Brennan.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MusicMan465 on September 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
It is often true that the heart of a composer's voice and most direct exhibition of skill are found within the idiom of the string quartet, particularly for instrumental composers. Such is the case with its inventor, Haydn, and certainly true in Beethoven. It's also delightfully evident with Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, as discovered in Cuarteto Latinamericano's outstanding recordings of the composer's complete repertoire of 17 string quartets, presented in Dorian Recordings' new boxed set featuring six CD volumes and a bonus DVD.

The composer's prolific output in the quartet medium reveals a fascinating portrait of his artistry at various stages of his career, and the wealth of creativity to be found in them makes for an incredible contribution to the repertoire. The quartets reveal a depth of musicality from a master craftsman, certainly equal in importance to contemporary masters such as Bartok or Shostakovich. Villa-Lobos writes with a broad spectrum of colors and textures with stylistic inventions that are distinctively his own. Though the composer incorporates a breadth of characteristic Brazilian folk influences and displays a full command of musical language, however, the quartets cannot be characterized as wholly unique. In the best sense, the quartets are shining examples of restraint, leaving the listener satisfied with efficient beauty, but still wishing for more. Villa-Lobos continuously demonstrates a profound influence from Haydn's cue, especially noticeable in his frequently used structure of 4 contrasting movements, but even more intrinsically evident in his overarching texture of clear melodies over varying accompaniments and rich, lush voicing.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. S. Wilks on September 1, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I have admired the Quarteto Latinoamericano since I acquired their recording of the three Ginastera quartets. I think they have done an outstanding job on the Dorian CD set of the 17 Villa Lobos quartets.
After I listened to the set and jotted down little comments on them, I looked at the program notes that came with the set and found that they were more or less in accord with my own reactions. Overall they were very informative.
My general reaction was that Villa-Lobos was influenced by the impressionist composers (Debussy and Ravel). There were even touches of Dvo'ák here and there. The middle quartets are clearly the work of the composer of Bachianas Brasileiras. In the later works, I feel the additional influence of Bartók but in a more accesible vein.
The prominent and frequently juicy parts given to the cello probably reflect the fact that Villa-Lobos was a cellist.
All in all, in spite of the increasing modernist trends in the quartets, Villa-Lobos never loses sight of importance of melody, Brazilian or otherwise.
In summary, I believe that this is an important set of recordings, played by a top-notch group. It makes me wonder why some of these quartets don't show up more regularly in our concert halls.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Fisher TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like many, I suppose, I like Villa-Lobos quite a bit but have had trouble getting beyond the Choros, some of the guitar music, and especially the Bachianas Brasilieras. So it was with a feeling of a little adventure and excitement that I ventured out into this collection of his string quartets.

I was delighted and at the same time a little flabbergasted. What a surprise. These quartets are vital and exuberant, and on more than one occasion I had to exclaim "wow!" out loud at my stereo system, as I didn't know a string quartet could make the sounds Villa-Lobos was putting them through. I knew Villa-Lobos was a prolific and inventive composer, but this collection really highlighted that for me even more than the gorgeous set of the Choros and Bachianas by the Sao Paulo orchestra on the Bis label.

It is impossible to characterize 17 quartets that span the composers whole career in just a few sentences, but it is certainly fair to say that emotions run high. The allegros are molto, with fiery melodies, rhythms that had me moving in my seat, and pizzicato passages that out-pizzicato just about anything else out there. The adagios surge with passion.

While I can't compare the performances to other recordings of these quartets, they seem nothing short of extraordinary to me. The Cuarteto Latinoamericano shows virtuosity and sensitivity, and ability to perform as a seamless unit. The recording is just the way I like it in terms of the acoustics of the room -- not to much reverb and echo, not too little. Very warm -- not too hot, not too cold.

The liner notes are really excellent, despite a flaw or two (like last two movements of the first string quartet on disc 1 being left off the track listing).
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