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The Preludes date from 1940, when Villa-Lobos was busy founding choral societies and a conservatory of music in Brazil. Originally he wrote six, but only five preludes survive. Prelude No 1 again revisits the waltz [listen -- track 1, 0:00-0:58], but with a livelier middle section. Prelude No 2 is rather like a rag [listen -- track 2, 0:00-0:59], but with a fascinating tune where the emphasis is on the leading note. This contrasts rather effectively with a middle section in a Spanish, strumming manner. Prelude No 3 opens with slow arpeggiated figures but rather than making these the prelude to something else, the composer encourages us to just enjoy the textures for their own sake. Prelude No 4 is based on a romantic theme, restated in various ways including some stunning harmonics. The final Prelude, No 5, is a return to the café waltz.

Bacon plays all the pieces with a rather understated, unshowy technique, where the music is always of prime importance. The guitar is recorded naturalistically, if a little closely; this is not a disc for those who dislike hearing noise of the guitarist's left hand sliding up the strings.

The disc is rather short measure for a CD, it is a pity that the publishers could not have found another source for some more of Villa-Lobos' guitar music, particularly the Etudes. But for those who have not yet explored this lovely, under-rated repertoire, then this disc makes a fine starting point.

Copyright © 28 October 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


Guitar Music of Villa-Lobos - Joseph Bacon, guitarist

mutable 17513-2 Stereo REISSUE 47'46" 1978 Arch Records, 2003 Mutable Music

Joseph Bacon, guitar

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959): Preludes 1-5 (1940); Etude No 5 (1929); Etude No 11 (1929); Etude No 8 (1929); Etude No 7 (1929); Valsa-Chôro (1912); Schottisch-Chôro; Chôros No 1 (1912)




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