Momo precoce & Other Works
Ralphus | Goyang, Gynggi-Do Korea (South) | 08/28/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let the raunchy cover art put you off. This Arte Nova re-issue (see also: Villa-Lobos: Orchestral Works) features good performances of some less well-known repertoire.
The earliest work here is the brief "Danca frenetica" of 1919. It is an enjoyable enough 5 minutes that doesn't quite, in my opinion, match the quality of later works or his early masterpiece, "Uirapuru". His piano work, "Momo precoce" is featured here in the concertante version that Villa-Lobos made for pianist, Magda Tagliaferro in 1929. For me, this is the highlight of the disc. At 23 minutes, this "Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra on 'Children's Carnival'", is a substantial work. It is reminiscent of some of the larger 'Choros'. Like "Choros no.11", for example, the piano soloist is kept busy for almost the entire duration of the piece with only a few bars here and there to rest. Several of the accompanying woodwinds are likewise given plenty to do. Notably a very prominent part for saxophone. Soloist, Marco Antonio de Almeida acquits himself more than ably. Incidentally, the title, "Momo precoce" refers to the 'Child King' of the carnival. The booklet notes tell us that 'momo' relates to the obscure English word 'mummer' (which means 'actor'). Presumably, this precocious child actor plays carnival king for the day.
"Dawn in a Tropical Forest" of 1953 re-visits the world of "Uirapuru". This highly evocative piece captures a jungle coming to life with chattering monkeys and parrots. As with the rest of the programme, the Jena Philharmonic under David Montgomery gives a colourful, committed performance. The recorded sound, while not utterly spectacular, is good enough to capture the brio of Villa-Lobos' wonderfully vibrant music.
The disc is rounded out with yet another performance of the ubiquitous "Bachianas Brasileiras no.2". It's a shame that the producers didn't opt for "Amazonas" or "Genesis" or "Erosion" instead; none of which is represented well on disc. (see: Villa-Lobos: Genesis / Erosao / Amazonas / Dawn in a Tropical Forest) This 'Bachianas' performance is quite OK, not that I've listened to it that closely.
For Arte Nova's modest asking price, this is a very worthwhile purchase. For lovers of Villa-Lobos, it may well be essential.
TT = 61'24"
Rec: Volkshaus, Jena 17-19/9/1996"