Thursday, February 24, 2011
Here's something most of us have never heard before. O Martírio dos Insetos is a very clever piece for violin & orchestra written by Villa-Lobos in 1925 (his modernist period). This is the U.S. premiere, recorded at last week-end's concert at Miami University in Oxford OH. Daniel Guedes is the violinist, and Ricardo Averbach conducts the Miami University Symphony Orchestra.
Though this is possibly the first performance of the piece since its premiere in 1948, there's an easily available score for the violin & piano adaptation made by the composer.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
I've been busy lately writing notices for the Naxos Customer Review Team, all of which you can read here. They include Andres Villamil's Chicaquicha, guitar music from Colombia which includes some pieces which sound to my ear to be influenced in a major way by Villa's Preludes and Etudes. Also Manuael Blancafort's Piano Music, volume 5 - the end of a great series from Naxos and a great achievement for the pianist Miquel Villalba. Blancafort and his Catalan compatriots Albéniz, Montsalvatge, and Mompou have the same mix of local folklore and Debussy/Ravel influences in their piano music as Villa-Lobos. I was really impressed with these CDs, along with new recordings from Anna Vinnitskaya, and Edward Gardner & the BBC SO. As usual, Naxos continues to produce and distribute some amazing CDs.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
A Bloco de carnaval is a street Carnival group. A brand-new group is Bloco Feitiço do Villa, which will be parading on the morning of March 5, 2011 (Villa's 124th Birthday), in front of the UFRJ Music School.
"Feitiço do Villa" means, I believe, "The Charm of Villa", though Google Translate for some reason gives "Groundhog Villa", which is charming in its own way. The focus of the group is a common theme here at The Villa-Lobos Magazine: the importance of Villa-Lobos and classical music to popular music and the Samba. Here are the words of the block's Samba:
Eu vou juntar
Chopinho com ChopinNão importa o amanhãHoje eu só quero Bach
Vou misturarCartola com RavelVilla-Lobos com NoelPra ver que bicho dá
Eu vou provarQue batuta batucaQue fagote no pagodePode dar um bafafá
Se Noel RosaÉ um clássico natoVilla-Lobos é de fatoUm artista popular
Hoje tudo é fantasiaHoje tudo é ilusãoE na foliaClara Nunes, quem diria,Canta em duo com Bidu Sayão
Nosso bloco desfilaCom magia quase sobrenaturalQue legalÉ o Feitiço do VillaEncantando de alegria o carnaval
Chopinho with Chopin
No matter what tomorrow
Today I just want to Bach
I will mix
Cartola with Ravel
Villa-Lobos with Noel
To see what kind of animal gives
That baton Batuca
What bassoon at the pagoda
Can you give a brouhaha
If Noel Rosa
It's a classic native
Villa-Lobos is in fact
A popular artist
Today everything is fantasy
Today everything is illusion
And in the revelry
Clara Nunes, who would say,
Sing a duet with Bidu Sayao
Our block parade
With almost supernatural magic
It's Groundhog Villa [sic]
Enchanting joy of the carnival
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The Museu Villa-Lobos has been presenting annual Festivals featuring the music of the Maestro for nearly half a century. This video shows how relevant Villa's music remains today, and it also highlights the vitality of the classical music scene in Brazil. Kudos to the Museu for this awesome Festival.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
From the New York Philharmonic Archives, the program of an important concert conducted by Villa-Lobos. This was the first (and the last?) North American performance of the secular cantata Mandu Çarará that included a full orchestra. Also included was an important work by Villa's close friend Florent Schmitt.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Blue Rose Duo is cellist Lars Hoefs and pianist Rose Chen. Their new Villa-Lobos CD from Wanderlust Music contains all of Villa's music for cello and piano except for the 2nd Sonata (the score for the 1st Cello Sonata is lost). The disc was recorded in California a year ago, and it's available from various web sources, including Amazon.com (Mp3 download) and CDBaby.
Villa-Lobos was a professional cellist before he became known as a composer, and many of his earlier works were written or arranged by him for cello and piano. The most substantial pieces on the disc are the 1913 Pequena Suite, and the three movements that Villa originally wrote for cello and piano that were incorporated into his orchestral suite Bachianas Brasileiras #2. But the emotional centre of the disc is the Song of the Black Swan (O Canto do Cisne Negro). This beautiful piece was originally a portion of the symphonic poem Naufragio de Kleonicos, written in 1916. The following year Villa-Lobos arranged the song for cello and piano, and it's taken off in the cello repertoire in recent years. I count 16 performances in the Villa-Lobos Website Concerts Database, and 20 recordings! The present recording of this piece is very good indeed, right up there with the recording by Antonio Meneses and Celina Szrvinsky on Avie.
The other smaller pieces on the disc certainly show Villa's gift for melody, though none is as striking as the Black Swan. You'll often see these pieces arranged for other combinations; Robert Bonfiglio arranged a number of them for harmonica and orchestra for his RCA CD of the Harmonica Concerto, for instance. There's a premiere recording of "Improviso #7", written for violin and piano from 1915, played here in a version for cello and piano that's very effective. There are no Improvisos #1-6, by the way; no wonder Villa's catalogue was in such a messed-up state until David Appleby and the Museu Villa-Lobos began organizing things.
Lars Hoefs adds so much value to this disc with his excellent liner notes. This is a first-class production all around, and one of the standout Villa-Lobos discs of the past few years.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I normally don't post shaky web-cam YouTube videos here at The Villa-Lobos Magazine, but this is really exceptional.
Mandú Çárárá is probably the greatest Villa-Lobos work that nobody knows. It's a Secular Cantata from 1939 which is unavailable on CD. This exciting performance is from last weekend's final performance of the 4th annual Festival Villa-Lobos in Caracas. Roberto Tibiriça conducts the amazing Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar & Coro Sinfónico Juvenil de Venezuela. I'm hoping that the other major work from that concert (Symphony #04) shows up on YouTube soon.
This is my favourite piece from Magdalena, Villa-Lobos's 1948 Broadway show. This video is from the June 2009 production in Campinas, featuring soprano Graziela Sanches. There's more from this production at YouTube.
This show had an influence on musicals in the late 40s and into the 50s; I suspect that Leonard Bernstein knew the work well.