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ALLA BREVE

August 15, 1993|TIMOTHY MANGAN

VILLA-LOBOS: String Quartets Nos. 4, 6 and 14. Danubius Quartet. Marco Polo 8.223391. "I love to write quartets," said Villa-Lobos, "One could say that it is a mania," and before he was through he had written 17 of them. There is certainly no hint of the hastily crafted about any of the three recorded here, spanning 36 years. Rather, the music impresses with its equilibrium, its almost Haydnesque balance of lyricism and counterpoint, spontaneity and discipline. When folkloric elements appear, as in the Sixth Quartet, they are incorporated into the musical fabric as to virtually disappear (a la Bartok). The accessibility and immediacy of the ideas, the way they bounce off each other and flow together, the clarity of form make one wonder why we don't hear these works more often. The Danubius Quartet plays with great poise and gentle warmth; occasionally, more grit seems in order. Recorded sound is first rate.

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