- Symphony No. 11, for orchestra, A. 527
- Symphony No. 9, for orchestra, A. 510
- Symphony No. 8, for orchestra, A. 499
Naxos' series of Villa-Lobos symphonies with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Isaac Karabtchevsky has brought to light works that have lain unperformed for some years. These three late symphonies all got off to good starts with performances by top American orchestras, but they gradually fell out of the repertory. You can understand why: they're rather thorny works, essentially neoclassical, but built up out of small motives that make you concentrate to follow the thread of events. They're also quite similar to one another. Little of the unique folkloric idiom that made Villa-Lobos famous is in evidence. Yet they are densely argued pieces that owe little to other composers, and it's good to hear them once again. Sample the compact, rather mechanical opening movement of the "Symphony No. 9," premiered in 1952 by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, and utterly unaffected by the tradition of grand ninth symphonies running from Beethoven down to Mahler. Karabtchevsky keeps the work moving, and the São Paulo Symphony has done idiomatic work in many of the releases in this series, but here one wishes for the crisp work of one of the European neoclassism specialists. Still, these are competent and welcome recordings of some neglected 20th century symphonies, recorded in the acoustically appropriate Sala São Paulo.