Villa-Lobos: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 (CD)

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Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Isaac Karabtchevsky

Villa-Lobos’ War and Victory Symphonies were commissioned by the Brazilian government following the end of the country’s involvement in World War I. Using very large orchestral forces, and conveying the composer’s feelings about the conflict with no sense of triumphalism, the two Symphonies display a confident use of unusual and evocative effects, such as the collage of fragments of the Brazilian national anthem and La Marseillaise in the ‘Battle’ movement of the Third Symphony. Villa-Lobos’s Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7 can be found on Naxos 8573043 in “superb… full-blooded” performances. (

This is the second volume of a complete set of Villa-Lobos’s symphonies, and collectors have already latched onto this series as one to watch out for. Conductor Isaac Karabtchevsky has been described by The Guardian as one of Brazil’s “living national icons”, and this all-Brazilian project has hit the ground running.

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The Guardian

28th February 2013


“as Isaac Karabtchevsky's full-blooded performances show, the two works that do exist are full of striking things. The programme of the Third, with movement titles like Life and Labour or Intrigues and Suffering, may seem as prescriptive as any socialist-realist work by Shostakovich, but Villa-Lobos's response is anything but prescribed.”

Gramophone Magazine

May 2013

“These new performances present both symphonies in the best possible light, the playing the most refined these works have had on disc. Karabtchevsky knows his Villa-Lobos and clarifies some of the thickly scored textures...Karabtchevsky leads the way.”