Monday, June 16, 2008

Bachianas Brasileiras in Concert

I recently commented on how popular Bachianas Brasileiras #6 has become in live performance, based on my database of Villa-Lobos Concerts. How does it stack up against the other 8 in the series?

Here are the numbers:
It's not a surprise that BB#5 is by far the most popular, and the above list probably under-estimates how often this piece is performed around the world. I don't always pick up every performance, especially in arrangements for voice and guitar (the composer's own, by the way), or for many other combinations of instruments.

BB#4 is in second place, partly because it's programmed as a solo piano work as well as an increasingly popular orchestral piece. Next is BB#9, which has recently become fashionable in its choral version as well as the version for strings. Cellists love BB#1, and there's a spill-over effect, since if you have 8 cellists performing BB#5, you might want to keep them busy in the same concert. BB#2 has the famous "Little Train" movement, so it's next, at 19 performances.

BB#6 follows that work; bassoonists love it. BB#3 used to be the rarest in performance, but it's been taken up by Sonia Rubinsky and others, and so it actually has become the most commonly performed VL work for piano and orchestra. #7 and #8 round out the list. I'm surprised by the relative rarity of #7, which I think is one of Villa's best orchestral works. Not so much with #8, though if you listen closely to a really good performance, it has the merits of many less-often-performed musical works in famous series (much like Beethoven's 8th Symphony).

There it is; Villa's signature series, from the more-or-less comprehensive list of world-wide concerts from 1999-2009.

And speaking of the Bachianas Brasileiras series, I missed this programme when it was on BBC Radio 3 a year ago, but here are the recommendations for these works from the CD Review programme of June 30, 2007:

Building a Library Recommendations

VILLA-LOBOS Bachianas Brasileiras


Reviewer: Catherine Bott

Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 9:
Victoria de los Angeles (soprano), French Radio National Orchestra, Heitor Villa-Lobos (conductor)
(recorded 1956-8)
EMI CLASSICS 5669122 (CD, mid-price)

Nos. 1 & 5:
Juliane Banse (soprano), The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic
(recorded 2000; from CD entitled 'South American Getaway')

Nos. 2, 3 & 4
Jean Louis Steuerman (piano), Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Roberto Minczuk (conductor)
(recorded 2002)
BIS CD-1250 (CD)

Nos. 7, 8 & 9
Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Roberto Minczuk (conductor)
(recorded 2003)
BIS CD-1400 (CD)

Complete - Nos. 1-9:
Rosana Lamosa (soprano), Jose Feghali (piano), Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Schermerhorn, Andrew Mogrelia (conductors)
(recorded 2004-5)
NAXOS 8557460/2 (3-CD, budget)

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