WORKS: Introduction to the Chôros; Chôros No. 1; Chôros No. 2; Chôros No. 3; Chôros No. 4; Chôros No. 5; Chôros No. 6; Chôros No. 7
PERFORMER: Carlos Oramas (guitar), Johanne-Valérie Gélinas (flute), Radovan Cavallin (clarinet), Sergio Alonso (piano); Gran Canaria PO & Chorus/Adrian Leaper
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1150
Only two of the 13 Chôros – nationalist-style works for various forces – have become part of the repertoire: the First, for guitar, and the Fifth, ‘The Soul of Brazil’, for piano. Neither demands profound interpretative insights – a sense of style and timing are what count, though in the reflective sections of the piano Chôros, Sergio Alonso could be more soulful. He faces competition from several others, not least Alma Petchersky (also on ASV), who is much more involved with the music. On the other hand, Carlos Oramas yields nothing to previous versions of the guitar Chôros by Julian Bream or John Williams. And it’s interesting to hear its first phrase pre-echoed in the Introduction to the Chôros for guitar and orchestra. At 12 minutes, this is considerably longer than the other Chôros here, apart from No. 6, another orchestral work, where lush Hollywood tunes alternate with drier contrapuntal passages. I can imagine more sensuous textures from a better-upholstered band, but there’s no other current CD version, and Leaper paces this essentially rambling piece well.
More successful are the smaller Chôros – No. 2, for flute and clarinet, lasts less than three minutes, and shows that Villa-Lobos had been listening to Stravinsky, as does No. 7, for a mixed octet. Both are pointedly played, though there’s a bit more roughness in the brass quartet in No. 4 and the male chorus in No. 3, where jazz peeps over the fence. So this CD may not be perfect, but the recording is colourful and open, and it’s the only way to get all these pieces without investing in a handful of discs: in that sense, it’s a self-selecting benchmark. Martin Cotton