String Quartet No.5
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-59) Brazil's best known composer is widely regarded as one of the most important of the 20th century. While many of his works for orchestra and or voice and instruments, such as his many Choros and Bachianas brasileiras, are widely performed, his chamber music, of which he wrote a considerable amount, is virtually unknown outside of Brazil. This is certainly a great pity as many masterworks are to be found among his 17 string quartets, three piano trios and several other chamber compositions. Villa-Lobos once stated, "I love to write string quartets. One could say it is a mania." He claimed to have learned quartet technique from having studied the quartets of Haydn.
Villa-Lobos was born in Rio de Janeiro. His father was an amateur musician and much of what he learned was from hearing and taking part in the chamber music evenings held at his home. He learned to play the cello, clarinet and guitar and did attend the Conservatorio de Musica where he studied with Alberto Nepomuceno, then Brazil's leading composer (we have published the world premiere edition of two of his string quartets). Afterwards, for a decade, beginning in 1905, Villa-Lobos explored the native and folk melodies of interior Brazil paying especial attention to the melding of African with Portuguese melody. Between 1915-1920, he was greatly influenced developments in modern French music due to visit to Brazil by Darius Milhaud and Sergei Diaghilev among others. In the 1920's, he made two visits to Paris and familiarized himself further with current developments. By the 1930's his music with its exotic sounds had captured the imagination of the French and his name was made.
String Quartet No.5, which became known as Quarteto Popular No.1, dates from 1931 and is perhaps his most appealing and inventive. The first movement, which is the longest, consists of seven separate episodes: Poco Andantino, Un poco vivo, Tempo primo, Lento, Allegro vivace, Vivo and Presto. Our sound-bite presents the happy Un poco vivo with its playful harmonics and lovely cello solo, the stirring, melancholy Lento and the Allegro vivace, a powerful, syncopated Brazilian native dance. The second movement is in four parts, Vivo e energico, Lento, Tempo primo and Molto lento. This spectacular movement presents the spooky night music of the Brazilian jungle. One can hear the animals calling out of the dark from among the hidden foliage The third movement, also in four parts--Andantino, Tempo giusto, Adagio and Andantino. begins with a rhythmic Indian section which leads to a short dramatic cello melody followed by a highly romantic subject. The finale, Allegro, begins with an unmistakably Indian dance motif, at first threatening and then sprightly. A playful folk dance played with harmonics in all the voices follows, then a wild Brazilian folk dance brings the movement to a close.
We believe this fine quartet is worthy of being called a modern masterpiece and hope that amateurs and professionals alike will be pleased to makes its acquaintance. It certainly would be This highly appealing work has been unavailable for long periods of time and we are pleased to offer it to professionals and amateurs both of whom should find it quite appealing.
Parts & Score: $31.95