Outrageous, ravishing and brash by turns, this disc could well attract a cult following beyond the polite confines of the classical choral set. Primarily taking keyboard pieces from Bach and the romantic repertoire and arranging them for an “orchestra of voices”, Villa-Lobos created these challenging transcriptions for a teachers’ choir as part of music education materials written for Rio de Janeiro’s public schools in the 1930s.

São Paulo Symphony Choir

Under the astute direction of Valentina Peleggi, the São Paulo Symphony Choir brings a warm, rich sound to their task. They are at their best in the slow, lyrical vein of works like Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words No 9 or Schumann’s Träumerei , and charming in Schubert’s Ständchen (sung in Portuguese). More amazing is the arrangement of Chopin’s Waltz No. 7 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 64, No 2, where the singers abandon themselves to the swirling dance with stunning effect. Rachmaninov’s C Sharp Minor Prelude, Op. 3, No 2 is arresting, even if over-the-top.

Villa-Lobos is well known for his love of Bach, and his transcriptions of preludes and fugues from...