Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The popularity of the Bachianas Brasileiras

The concerts database at The Villa-Lobos Website goes back more than 10 years. I try to include every important concert I come across. Every once in a while I report on the relative popularity of certain works. Here's the latest on Villa's Bachianas Brasileiras:
No surprise that #5 comes out on top, with 342 concerts. Probably half of the performances are of the Aria alone. As well, I think more than half are either in the arrangements Villa-Lobos himself made for voice & guitar or for voice & piano, or in another of the many versions for flute or cello, guitar ensemble, or accordion.

Next, with 218 is #4, with more performances of the piano version than the orchestral one. Lately I'm seeing more orchestras (especially youth orchestras) playing only the first movement.

A significant subset of #2 concerts include only the Little Train movement - either in the original scoring or jazz or MPB versions. This shows up so often that one can think of it as a National Song.

BB#9 includes mainly the version for strings, though the choral version has become more popular in the past few years.

BB#1 is fairly common, with 79 performances. When 8 cellos are rounded up to perform #5, the first Bachianas Brasileiras is often included in the program. As well, there seem to be more cello ensembles out there, and this is one of the most important works for "an orchestra of cellos." I just wish more would play the other rare works that Villa wrote for the orchestral combination he helped to invent.

With only two performers required for #6, there are quite a few concerts out there. There aren't too many works from other composers for flute & bassoon.

BB#7 is one of my favourite works, and I'm quite surprised there are only 30 concerts in total. I'm actually surprised in the opposite way that there are as many as 24 performances of BB#3, which is a big, sprawling piano concerto. And BB#8 brings up the rear with only 16 performances; it deserves more!

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