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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Alberto Nepomuceno, Symphony in G Minor, Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra, Fabio Mechetti

Kicking off Naxos's many volume series devoted to Brazilian classical music, this volume of Alberto Nepomuceno's Symphony in G minor (Naxos 8.574067) brings to us a fine set of works by a founder-composer of the Brazilian nascence and the incorporation of the popular and folk music of the region at a time (1864-1920) when such things were not much considered. The Music of Brazil series is an "initiative of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs" and there are many volumes planned. If they are like this one we are in for some fine music indeed.

The CD has a well performed program of three Nepomuceno gems for our appreciation and happy listening. All are infused with a melodic folk brilliance one loves to hear, whether it be in the Prelude "O Garatuja" (1904), the four part "Brazilian Suite" (1891) or, somewhat less folkloric with the impressive "Symphony in G minor" (1893).

Invention is not in shortage and Nepomuceno has a good orchestrational sense. The liners note the influence of Brahms in the symphony, and I hear that as well. The symphony bears up well under scrutiny  Nepomuceno served notice to the world that Brazilian composers were a new force on the international classical scene. If Alberto encouraged Villa-Lobos and other young Brazilians he also gave them a model for thinking of the local and the classical in tandem.

The Prelude to "O Garatuja" comes from Nepomuceno's incomplete opera of that name and sets a lively tone. The "Brazilian Suite" is infectious too, and concludes with a Batuque dance that has some real clout

Performances are first-rate. The Music of Brazil Series is off to an auspicious start with this enlightening and enjoyable survey of the music of Nepomuceno. Very recommended.

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