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