Firstly, let me say that this disc is worth its price for the exceptionally well-performed "Suite pour Cordes". Here we have Villa-Lobos pre- his Danses Africanes in a thoroughly well-composed 18 minute piece for strings (composed 1912/13). There are moments almost echoing the Schoenberg of Verklaerte Nacht, the ceaseless but unobtrusive modulations and imitative counterpoint appearing now and again. Yet it is restful - a work to audition in quieter moments; and devoid of this composer's usual trade marks such as impossible rhythms and jungle noises. It is not stylistically dissimilar to the earlier String Quartets and in fact (according to the sleeve note) is effectively a double string-quintet.
All in all it is a side of Villa-Lobos obscured in his usual repertoire, the guitar music, the Bachianas Brasileiras and the Choros. The symphonies are pure symphonic stuff showing that Villa-Lobos was every bit able to handle the formal disciplines this more academic genre demands. They are works far easier to assimilate than, say, his Choros 8 & 9.
Unfortunately, neither score nor alternative recordings are available except the symphony 6. Even so, the performances are committed and convincing; the orchestra well balanced and easily able to accommodate those unexpected Villa-Lobos moments that can so easily throw performers off.
It is through such works as these that Villa-Lobos shows his mature accomplishment as a composer. A worthy addition to the shelf of any music fan and especially Villa-Lobos fan. The Suite pour Cordes will reveal a Villa-Lobos more gently passionate than we ever imagined.