CD Review: Andrea Bissoli Plays from Villa-Lobos’ Original Manuscripts

villa lobos


From the Winter 2015 issue of Classical Guitar comes this review of a fine CD of pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos, played by Italian guitarist Andrea Bissoli.

Villa-Lobos: Guitar Manuscripts Vol. 3
Andrea Bissoli

A new ‘old’ look at Villa-Lobos’ Études, and more


Does an original manuscript always represent the composer’s true wishes? Or is it sometimes better seen as an uncut early draft, the music in its subsequent printed form (assuming this exists) serving as the final edit? These questions have been asked in relation to the 12 Villa-Lobos Études, which Italian guitarist Andrea Bissoli performs here from the 1928 manuscript housed in the Max Eschig archive.

Given that for at least half a century the Eschig edition published in 1953 was the only version most of us knew, the manuscript provides a welcome opportunity to view these old favorites from a new angle. Familiar fare such as No. 11 now wanders into uncharted territory, while No. 1 and No. 2 become entirely different pieces in the absence of the repeat marks that surrounded each measure by 1953. Apart from some rather uneven scale runs in No.7, the playing is of a high order, and Bissoli’s use of a 1917 Ramírez-Hernández from the same stable as the instrument Segovia was probably playing when he met Villa-Lobos in 1924 adds a pleasing touch of period authenticity.

Bissoli’s inspired revisiting of the Études, together with a charming sequence of sound bite folk settings from Guia Prático (1932) and a newly minted arrangement of Tarantella (1911), which Bissoli persuasively argues was written “guitar in hand,” provides compelling evidence that the Villa-Lobos well is far from dry.  — Paul Fowles

And here’s a video from a few years ago of Bissoli playing Villa-Lobos’ “Valsa Concerto”: