Henri Vieuxtemps (Belgian 1820-81): Violin Concertos. I bought this way back in 2004 at HMV where they had a table or reduced-price classical cds. I like violin concertos so I picked it up knowing nothing about the composer. I’ve played it several times since then but to be honest I have no recollection of what I heard 🙂 The music is pleasant enough that I’ve kept it in my collection. It’s the sort of thing you might hear on CBC radio & think ‘that’s nice.’ At Vieuxtemps’ funeral his violin was carried upon a pillow behind the hearse carrying his body.
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 – 1959) Brazilian, wrote over 2000 works by his death in 1959. If you’ve never heard of him, chances are you have heard him but not realized it was his music you were listening to in the background of some movie or TV show.
I have as stand-alones his Complete Solo Guitar which includes Bachianas Brasileiras, Piano Music Vol 4, Piano Music Vol 5, String Quartets Vol 6. Although I tend to be a completest I was content with this selection of his works. I think I first heard his music as played by Andre Segovia; then some of it ‘smuggled’ by various progrock groups; as well as jazz takes by Chick Corea & others.
Like many composers he makes extensive use of folk melodies but unlike, say, Smetana, doesn’t turn them into epic patriotic melodrama. Playful, thoughtful & romantic his melodies are ideal for musical exploration & easily adapt to tango, rumba or bossanova.
For many years I was unaware that he wrote for anything other than guitar, & was surprised to find that the piece of his I liked was adapted from his piano music. So I added some of that to my collection & decided to try some of his string quartets – which are excellent, if you like string quartets.
If you find his latino influence a little too controlled by classical structure you should try Piazzolla or even Sivuca for a ‘juicier’ classical experience.