Edino Krieger (1928-2022) was a totally unknown name to me prior to hearing this recording. The long-lived composer was born in Brusque, a city in southern Brazil. This disc of six of his orchestral works is one of many new releases appearing in Naxos’s fascinating Music of Brazil series.

Kreiger

As a young man, Krieger studied with such well-known names as Aaron Copland, Peter Mennin, and Lennox Berkeley. While he is clearly a Modernist, you can hear these influences in his work: Copland in his orchestration, for instance, which contains plenty of space and clear colours. While Krieger basically eschews Brazilian dance rhythms or the kind of lush density we associate with Villa-Lobos, both turn up occasionally within a more pared-back, sharp-edged textural context. 

The pieces in this program were written between 1964 (Variaçoes Elementares) and 1988 (Tres Imagens de Nova Friburgo): a period when Krieger was combining his early serialism with freer, extramusical influences. A pivotal work is the 15-minute Variaçoes. A prologue featuring an angular theme played on solo vibraphone is followed by ten variations which become progressively fuller in instrumental colour. Some imitate 17th-century forms, such as Toccata (Var. 2) and Ricercare (Var. 4), while others are distinctly Brazilian, like the Choro (Var. 5) and Bossa-Nova (Var. 7). The overall result resembles in tone and structure a more astringent, Brazilian version of Alberto Ginastera’s popular Variaciones Concertantes, written around a decade earlier. 

In Ludus Symphonicus (1965), a three-movement mini-symphony, Krieger gives each movement over to an individual aspect of musical form: The first movement is primarily harmonic, built on a series of chords; the second is melodic with long-breathed lyrical lines for the strings (without harmony), and the third is rhythmic, driven by brass and percussion. It is a disciplined approach, resulting in a succinct and powerful work.

An impressionistic bent is evident in some of the other pieces, notably Canticum Naturale (Song of Nature, 1972). The first of two connected movements depicts native Amazonian birds – the composer studied recordings of their song – and by the closing climax they make quite a naturalistic racket. The second part, Monologue of the Waters, uses a wordless soprano to represent the mythical Mother of the Water, before we return to the Amazon Forest. Despite existing well and truly within Villa-Lobos territory, this piece’s style and formal rigour render it distinctively personal. 

The remaining works are similarly imaginative: his sonic characterisation of fog (the first of the Three Images of New Friburgo, 1988), scored for strings and harpsichord, manages to be simultaneously murky and stately.

On the whole, this is carefully calibrated, evocative modern music. British conductor Neil Thomson and the Goías Philharmonic have been responsible for many issues in this series, and they keep up their fine standard here. The sound is realistic and well balanced. Perhaps Flavia Fernandes’s soprano is a touch fulsome for a water spirit, but admittedly she is a Brazilian spirit and supposed to sound motherly. Anyone collecting this series should thoroughly enjoy this program.

Listen on Apple Music

Composer: Krieger
Works: Variaçoes Elementares, Ludus Symphonicus, Canticum Naturale
Performers: Goías Philharmonic Orchestra/Neil Thomson
Label: NAXOS 8574408

Limelight subscriptions start from $4 per month, with savings of up to 50% when you subscribe for longer.