Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Villa the Conductor

In his review of the monster (22 CD) Composers in Person set from EMI, "Composers at the wheel", Scott Foglesong gets a chance to critique various composers as performers/conductors. He's pretty positive about Villa-Lobos:
"There are those composers who have played and/or conducted their own music but were really better served by others: Aaron Copland comes to mind in that respect, Paul Hindemith ditto. Heitor Villa-Lobos, on the other hand, did at least as well as anyone else and considerably better than most."
Though many have slammed Villa's conducting, Foglesong is in line with some pretty perceptive critics from the past:
Virgil Thompson:
“The composer conducted one through both pieces with courtesy, making everything clear and keeping us interested at every moment.”

Wesley Wehr:
"Mr. Villa-Lobos was a good conductor, especially of his own music. He could conduct with a glance."

Paul Bowles:
"In his conducting he bounced along with the beat animatedly and managed to keep the sometimes complicated rhythms clear of each other…. The further afield he goes, the more likely he is to bring back discoveries of true charm and value."


  1. are there recordings of him conducting others' works?

    1. Good question, Igor! I can't think of any off-hand, which is a shame.