These are wonderful pieces, with only perhaps the Rodrigo at all well-known today, and then only because of his famous guitar concertos. Boieldieu was a very good composer, and his harp concerto is often breathtakingly beautiful; if the theme of the finale isn’t the last word in elegant pathos then nothing is. The Villa-Lobos sounds just like–Villa-Lobos: rich, exotic, heavily scored, and voluptuous. It’s a big work in four movements. The lively and lovely Rodrigo needs no introduction, save to note that it’s one of his very best works in any medium.
The performances are really very good, and have withstood the test of time very well (they date from 1973). Catherine Michel may not be a household name, but she plays very well indeed–crisply, with a limpid sonority and a minimum of “twang”. Antonio de Almeida offers fine accompaniments. There’s a touch of untidiness in the strings in the finale of the Villa-Lobos, which is understandable given the awkwardness of the writing, but this is a very minor point. The engineering was and remains excellent, though as usual with these faux-surround productions I only listen in stereo.