We are always pleased to pay a tribute to our roots, and include as much Brazilian music as possible in our performances. The idea for this CD was germinated when we began rehearsing Villa-Lobos’s duet and realized the potential of the repertoire for these two instruments. In this duo, both violin and viola present virtuosic passages full of the Brazilian themes that are characteristic of Villa-Lobos’s music, creating an atmosphere of ingenuity and mystery. This duet demonstrates the composer’s mastery of string composition that places high demands on the technical abilities of the performers.
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is one of the most internationally recognized Brazilian composers. Villa-Lobos’s nationalistic style along with his European influences brought Brazilian music to new heights in the 20th century. Although he is best known for his orchestral and solo works, his oeuvre contains many chamber works as well.
Written in 1946 in Rio de Janeiro, the Duo for Violin and Viola is dedicated to Paulina d’Ambrosio, a Brazilian violinist who Villa-Lobos admired. The harmonic and melodic language found in this duet is similar to that used in his string quartets, especially in his String Quartet No. 1 which received a revision by the composer in the same year, 1946.
In this duo, both violin and viola present virtuosic passages full of the ever-present Brazilian themes that are characteristic of Villa-Lobos’ music. The first movement evokes an atmosphere of ingenuity and mystery. The opening melody with the viola creates an unexpected sense of comfort and wonder that develops through the movement. During the tender second movement Villa-Lobos calls for muted instruments. Written in ternary form, this movement reminds the listener of a lament with both instruments singing alternately above a simple accompaniment line. While listening to the third movement a parallel could be made to his own Choros, with its jerky rhythms and quick key changes. Overall, this duet demonstrates the composer’s mastery of string compositions that place high demands on the technical abilities of the performers.