São Paulo Symphony Choir feat. Valentina Peleggi | Villa-Lobos: Choral Transcriptions Review
By Illiam Sebitz
Heitor Villa-Lobos is known for his outstanding compositions that have such passion and lyricism. However, Villa-Lobos’ Choral music catalog of works also holds a series of little-known transcriptions for a cappella choir taken from the standard classical repertoire. The transcriptions were initially intended for a teachers’ chorus and for use in schools, and through astonishing alchemy, they achieve a proper ‘orchestration,’ adding a fresh new repertoire for vocal ensembles. The Brazilian composer intends to have each voice sing the distinct melodies that formed the original work, which created an orchestra of voices that would teach young people how to vocalize and part-sing with control and fluidity. Villa-Lobos: Choral Transcriptions brings many of these transcriptions to life through the São Paulo Symphony Choir under Valentina Pileggi’s direction. The album also includes the first-ever recording of Villa-Lobos’s complete set of a cappella from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No. 8 in E flat minor/D sharp minor, BWV 853 is a decisive moment on the recording. The balance and accuracy of the São Paulo Symphony Choir are stunning. Opening with a low E flat pedal tone from the basses, the “Prelude” is orchestrated with poise and care. Villa-Lobos’ orchestrating colors and dynamic markings are stunning; the way the female and male voices mix and support each other is beautiful. The counterpoint rings clear, and the harmony buzzes with conscience intonation.
Bach’s Prelude & Fugue in D Major, BWV 874: “II. Fugue” is a beautiful mixture of Brazilian rhythms and Bach’s sublime fugue writing. Villa-Lobos orchestrates these two elements’ in such fluidity that it sounds as natural as the original score. The São Paulo Symphony Choir sings the transcriptions with passion and accuracy, while Pileggi directs the ensemble with swelling emotional phrases and stunning breathes and crescendos.
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13 “Pathétique”: II. Adagio cantabile also needs mentioning since the popularity of this piece will be universal. The care and balance of which Villa-Lobos conceived the breaths and melodic flow is remarkable. This is a dazzling reading by the choir.
Choral music fans will relish in the sounds of Villa-Lobos: Choral Transcriptions. However, the beauty and unique use of rhythms will also entice many listeners from outside the classical genre. The modern-ish language of the Brazilian composer is brought to life by excellent singing throughout. The São Paulo Symphony Choir has impeccable intonation, ensemble technique, and balance, and the resulting music is a joy to experience.
Release Date : January 4, 2021
Label : Naxos