Saturday, March 12, 2011
Victory Symphony in Caracas
Conductor Roberto Tibiriçá has sent me the links to new high-quality versions of video from his January 2011 concert with the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana "Simón Bolívar". Here is the rarely-played 4th Symphony (the "Victory", written in 1919). Villa-Lobos piled on the orchestration in this piece, which calls for a "fanfarra" of brass instruments, and a "conjunto interno" with even more brass. In this performance the Banda Sinfónica Juvenil Simón Bolívar provides more-than-capable support.
Having to bring this many musicians on-stage (and asking the percussionists to play such instruments as pratos, bombo, tambor, caixa clara, sinos, sistro, pandeiro, guizos, chocalho, and others) helps to explain why this work isn't in the standard repertoire. But an exciting performance like this one points to a bit of a re-examination of the symphonies, which have always been damned with faint praise, especially in comparison with the orchestral Bachianas Brasileiras, Choros, ballets, and tone poems.
The highlight of that concert, though, was a real eye-opener: the pretty much never-performed secular cantata Mandú Çárárá, written in 1939. Unlike the symphony, this is one of Villa's greatest works, nearly on the same level as Choros #10 and the Nonetto. And once again, it's presented to best effect with the same high-flying orchestra, this time with the Sistema Nacional de Coros FESNOJIV (which includes a charming children's choir). So here is the official video (much better than the shaky camera version I posted last month).
The last piece from the concert is the overture to Lo Schiavo, by Carlos Gomes.