CD: Hommage à Heitor Villa-Lobos

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Release date: 2012
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Kreusch takes Villa-Lobos seriously and at the word (…) A beautiful publication.



Johannes Tonio Kreusch: guitar


Heitor Villa Lobos: Preludios Para Violao (Guitarra)
01: Preludio No. 1 Andantino espressivo
02: Preludio No. 2 Andantino
03: Preludio No. 3 Andante
04: Preludio No. 4 Cantabile
05: Preludio No. 5 Poco animato

06: Simples (Mazurka)
07: Valsa (fragment)
08: Valsa Concerto No. 2 (unfinished)
09: Valse-Choro
10: Etude No. 11 (1928 manuscript version)
11: Etude No. 1 Prelude (1928 manuscript version)

Tulio Peramo Cabrera: Cinco Preludios Hommenaie a Heitor villa Lobos. Dedicated to Johannes Tonio Kreusch / World Premiere Recording
12: Preludio No. 1 Moderato
13: Preludio No. 2 Molto Moderato
14: Preludio No. 3 Lento
15: Preludio No. 4 Sabroso
16: Preludio No. 5 Poco Allegro

17: Mazurka-ChoroPreludio No. 2 Molto Moderato

Audio sample: Track 01: Preludio No. 1 Andantino espressivo
Audio sample: Track 05: Preludio No. 5 Poco animato
Audio sample: Track 06: Simples (Mazurka)
Rehearsal: Track 12: Preludio No. 1 Moderato (Peramo Cabrera)


Fono Forum: 5 (out of 5) stars music and 5 (of 5) stars sound

It doesn’t take much to make a guitarist’s heart beat faster: the ascending bass line on the A-string from h to e, accompanied by the always same rhythmically struck chord of the upper empty strings g, h, e. And yet in this little longing beginning lies the heart of an entire cosmos. It is that of the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 to 1959), whose fascination with guitarists is so strong because he sounds so exotic, so infinitely different from much of the literature quickly exhausted in the Iberian idiom. Heitor Villa-Lobos played his own excellent guitar, his works are composed, so to speak, directly on the fretboard.

And yet, for Johannes Tonio Kreusch, who achieved his international breakthrough with works by Villa-Lobos in 1999, doubts remained: “I always had the feeling,” says Kreusch, that there is more to this music than the well-known interpretations have mostly presented.” He obtained the original manuscripts, compared them with the usual editions and found numerous irregularities in the transcripts. Here he corrects the preludes, which has roughly the same effect as if a pianist were putting Liszt’s works into an unknown primal state. There are no “new” pieces, but some coloring now seems more plausible. In addition, rediscovered pieces and fragments can be heard. Kreusch shines with warm, round tone, stretches the tempi, is looking for his very own Villa-Lobos language. It opens up thoughtfully introspective perspectives, excites poetic moments. He commissioned five Préludes from the Cuban composer Tulio Peramo Cabrera in homage to Heitor Villa-Lobos. They are more than a beautiful, spirited aperu.
(Tilman Urbach)


Johannes Tonio Kreusch Homage to
Heitor Villa-Lobos, who died in Rio de Janeiro in 1959, is not only one of the most famous Brazilian composers of the 20th century. It was he who played a decisive role in the development of independent Brazilian art music.

In addition to numerous adaptations, he left behind almost frighteningly productive compositions of all colours, choral works, songs, operas, ballet music, symphonies, concerts, chamber and piano music – a universal musician, which was rather rare in the 20th century. The music for guitar, which today significantly shapes his reputation, makes up only a small part of his overall work with around 30 pieces. But Villa-Lobos appreciated and loved this instrument. With him he grew up as a composer, after he had more or less taught himself to play the guitar.

In the tradition of Bach
The fact that he nevertheless composed so little for guitar could be related to the fact that this instrument was and will be so directly associated with folkloric music. Villa-Lobos, however, explicitly and no doubt rightly did not see himself as a folklorist, but his work may also be interspersed with folk music influences. For him, his compositions were part of classical music in the narrower, strict sense, music in the tradition of a Johann Sebastian Bach, whom Villa-Lobos adored greatly.

The most famous works for guitar that Villa-Lobos wrote are probably his 12 etudes, which he completed in Paris in the 1920s and later dedicated to Andres Segovia. Kreusch already presented them very convincingly on CD years ago and now has the five preludes and some individual pieces followed, including the unfinished and fragmentary. He also plays the five preludes dedicated to him by the Cuban composer Tulio Peramo Cabrera entitled “Homenaje a Heitor Villa-Lobos”.

Johannes Tonio Kreusch, one of the most exciting and interesting guitarists of our time, studied in Salzburg with Eliot Fisk and at the New York Juilliard School with Sharon Isbin. In the meantime, he is present all over the world, plays a lot of contemporary music in addition to the classical repertoire, composes himself and is also at home in the field of improvised music and jazz. In his birthplace Ottobrunn near Munich, together with his brother, the jazz pianist Cornelius Claudio Kreusch, he initiated the beautiful Ottobrunn concerts, which successfully try to break new ground, combine the unusual, home to jazz as well as classical music.

Flawless and sensitive
His new CD once again reveals Kreusch’s impeccable technique – a fantastic guitarist and at least as much an enormously sensitive musician who encounters this music with the necessary rigour and plays it entirely in the knowledge that this is the most demanding classical chamber music of an important composer. Kreusch takes Villa-Lobos seriously and at his word, with the excellent recording technique helping him. A beautiful publication.
(Oswald Beaujean)

about: Hommage à Heitor Villa-Lobos

The Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos is an important figure for the career of guitarist Johannes Tonio Kreusch. Because the recording of his famous 12 guitar etudes was the breakthrough for Kreusch in 1999: such a luminous and filigree Villa-Lobos had not been heard until then. Kreusch himself had long wondered about the usual performance practice: “I always had the feeling that there is more to this music than the well-known interpretations have usually presented.” This was simply due to the fact that most of the time was played after the published editions. In detective work, however, Kreusch obtained the original manuscripts and discovered the many errors and omissions in the music text and corrected the Villa-Lobos image with his CD to this day. It had only had to come someone like Johannes Tonio Kreusch for this long overdue correction and rediscovery: one who was serious and at the same time idiosyncratic enough, and was also able to look beyond the confines of the guitar scene.


“The idea was to record the Prelude Cycle of Villa-Lobos in its original manuscript version, as well as some newly discovered and as yet unpublished guitar works by the composer, after the 12 etudes I recorded in 1999. Villa-Lobo’s preludes are contrasted with 5 preludes written for me by the Cuban composer Tulio Peramo Cabrera in homage to Villa-Lobos for this production,” explains Kreusch. Again, he set to work detectively, finds later revised manuscript copies by the composer, compares different versions and assigns them to the composer’s creative periods. Anyone who reads the extensive booklet – based on an even more extensive lecture – can already measure Kreusch’s conscientiousness and care, which preceded the playful handling of these works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, which in turn are to be discovered. Anyone who listens to the album can only be thrilled: tulio Peramo Cabrera’s reflections, extended by European classical music and modern, sometimes almost North American sounds, but also by the virtuosity, the always substantial interpretation, the harmonic richness and the well-considered dynamics with which the “true” Heitor Villa-Lobos resounds here…”
Oliver Hochkeppel

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