The Nonetto is currently without a modern recording easily available in North America and Europe. I hope this will change shortly. Earlier this year, Conductor Adrian Leaper performed the Nonetto in Madrid with the RTVE Symphony & Chorus. Here is a reference to the concert, which was recently played on Spanish radio:
06:00 ORQUESTA SINFÓNICA Y CORO DE RTVE
CICLO COMPOSITORES IBEROAMERICANOS (XI)
DIRECCIÓN: ADRIÁN LEAPER
ORQUESTA: ORQUESTA SINFÓNICA DE RTVE
Desde el Teatro Monumental de Madrid, actuación de la Orquesta Sinfónica de RTVE que, bajo la dirección de Adrián Leaper, interpreta "Sesemaya" de Silvestre Revueltas, "Nonetto, para coro y orquesta" de Heitor Villa-Lobos y "Serenata concertante Op. 40" de Juan Orrego Salas.
There is a new Brazilian version of the Nonetto, from the Sociedade Musicale Bachiana Brasileira, available on CD and DVD. You can hear the Nonetto online on the excellent Bachiana Brasileira website (it's on the CD Obras Raras na Música Brasileira de Concerto - choose the final track in the Flash player.) The DVD is called Quadros de Uma Alma Brasileira, and you can preview four of the tracks online in low or high resolution. Unfortunately, the Nonetto video isn't online, but you can see and hear portions of the work on the Documentario (special features) portion of the site.
The works on the DVD were recorded almost exactly a year ago, December 15, 2005, at the Sala Cecília Meireles.
This is a very, very exciting project. I can't find a place on the website where you can order the CDs or DVDs directly, but read this recent post in Tumbling Villa-Lobos to find out about a Brazilian onine retailer who sells the DVD.
The CDs and DVDs on the Bachiana Brasileira website include many other rare Brazilian works; I'll be featuring it in a future post on the Magazine.
There are two famous recordings of the work from the 40s and 50s; it would be great if both were re-issued.
On a Capitol LP (CTL 7037), the Roger Wagner Chorale and the Concert Arts Ensemble performed two chamber works with chorus: the Quatour and the Nonetto. The sound on the disc was demonstration quality; the final movement of the Nonetto was included on Capitol SAL-9020 "Full Dimensional Sound: A Study in High Fidelity."
Here is a citation to a contemporary review:
- Villa-Lobos: Nonetto, for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, Harp, Celesta, Battery, and Mixed Chorus; Quatuor, for Flute, Harp, Celesta, Alto Saxophone, and Women's Voices by The Roger Wagner Chorale and the Concert Arts Players, Roger Wagner, Villa-Lobos
Author(s) of Review: Richard F. Goldman
The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 1954), pp. 157-158
Villa-Lobos thought very highly of Roger Wagner and his singers. Here's a quote from the official RWC website:
"Roger Wagner deserves all my admiration for his dedicated work...a notable achievement in technique and sound as well as perfect interpretation."
The second disc, "Festival of Brazilian Music," was released as a 78 rpm album by RCA Victor: disc #LCT 1143. In the Nonetto, Hugh Ross conducts the Brazilian Festival Orchestra and the Schola Cantorum. The album also includes Bachianas Brasileiras #1 (with Walter Burle Marx conducting the Brazilian Festival Orchestra); the Quatour (with the great Brazilian soprano Elsie Houston, soprano and Ross/Brazilian Festival Quartet/Schola Cantorum); and Cancao do Careiro (sung by Elsie Houston, accompanied by Miguel, piano). This album was recorded in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art and the Commissioner General from Brazil. Another record number for this set is Victor DM-773(5).
Here's a short review from the May 19, 1941 issue of Time Magazine:
A Festival of Brazilian Music (Victor; 10 sides; $5.50). First big phonographic collection of works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazil's No. i composer and one of the lustiest living. Beautifully recorded by Soprano Elsie Houston, the Schola Cantorum, conducted by Hugh Ross, a scratch orchestra under Burle Marx. Villa-Lobosities: a Bachiana Brasileira for eight cellos attempting to fuse the spirits of Bach and Brazil; a Nonetto for chorus and small orchestra, purporting to describe Brazil's geography.
So, besides the advantage of having the Nonetto on CD, a reissue of this set would provide us with another rarely heard work (the Quatuor), plus a chance to hear the legendary Elsie Houston.
Let's get to work on these re-issues, record companies!
Check out this page on the Nonetto at the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website. It uses a new template for Villa-Lobos's works; some day in the future there will be a page on the site for each of the major works.