Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Andre Kostelanetz plays music of Villa-Lobos

In 1974 Columbia (CBS) records released an LP of music performed by the great master of light music, Andre Kostelanetz. All of the pieces were by Villa-Lobos, some in arrangements by Kostelanetz. The LP (M 32821, CBS 61564) shows up in many lists of favourite "easy-listening" classics on the Internet. The highlight for me is the Suite from Magdalena (Villa-Lobos's operetta/Broadway musical of 1948). For more information on the original work, see Ricardo Prado's excellent essay, in Lee Boyd's excellent translation.

Kostelanetz's version of the work points up the full-blown kitschy charm of Villa's music - this is definitely the master letting his hair down! Not profound music, but definitely fun. As Prado says, Villa-Lobos "re-fashioned" many of his favourite melodies - some famous and some lifted from obscure works of his past.

The Kostelanetz LP hasn't been reissued on CD (though I think it would sell well, judging by the recent mini-boom in Villa-Lobos recordings), so you'll need to search it out in libraries (the University of Alberta has a copy) or used-disc stores and websites. The only CD of the complete musical, which Prado praises highly, is hard to come by - I had an order in at amazon.com forever, and it was finally cancelled.

The Teatro Amazonas, a great opera house in the tropical rain-forest.

Your best bet for hearing this music: go to the VII FESTIVAL AMAZONAS DE ÓPERA at the great tropical opera house in Manaus. Magdalena will be performed on the 26th and 29th of April and the 1st of May, with Ligia Amadio conducting the Amazonas Filarmônica, the Coral do Amazonas, the Corpo de Dança do Amazonas and a Coral Infantil. A last minute trip to Brazil would be nice...

Thanks to Bert Berenschot for providing this amazingly entertaining music.

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