Thursday, July 5, 2012

Caixinha de Boas Festas

Here's a Villa-Lobos work that's only had a single recording: a 1954 RCA Victor LP of the 1932 orchestral work Caixinha de Boas Festas (The Surprise Box).  It's now available on CD, thanks to Klassic Haus Restorations. I received a pre-production copy in the mail today, and was very pleased with the quality of the restoration.  I had a banged-up copy of the LP, and even with the nostalgia factored in, the pops & clicks got in the way of my enjoyment of this very fun piece. Now you can buy the CD (which also includes de Falla's Homenajes which was on Side B of the LP, along with Albeniz's Iberia from a 1952 Decca LP) at a very low price, and download 320 kbps MP3s at an even lower price. This is highly recommended.

A significant portion of Villa-Lobos's music concerns the world of children. This is an excellent example, with its quotations of children's songs from the Guia pratico. Like the Saudade da Juventude, this work would fit nicely in a Symphonic Pops program, though there's enough interest in Villa-Lobos nowadays that it would be popular on any symphonic stage.

Here's more about the piece.  Thanks to Harold Lewis for his translation:
In the text of a radio talk given in August 1975, Walter Burle Marx recalled (Presença de Villa Lobos no. 10) that Villa-Lobos had offered to produce a piece for one of the young persons' concerts he (Burle Marx) was organising. Two days before the concert, in November 1932, he visited Villa-Lobos in his little apartment in the centre of Rio. The composer had just finished dinner and was clearing the table.

"Villa-Lobos," he inquired, "how far have you got with the work you've promised?"
"I'll work on it tonight, and should finish it at 4 a.m."
"And the parts?"
"I'll do them myself and some friends are coming to help me later."
"Then I'll let you get on with it and not disturb you."
"You're not disturbing me at all," said Villa-Lobos, insisting that Burle Marx stayed. After sorting the manuscripts on the table, Villa-Lobos went on working on the orchestration while talking to his visitor. At the same time, in another room of the apartment, the pianist Jose Brandão was playing the transcription of the symphonic poem 'Amazonas', and from time to time, Villa-Lobos, hearing something that wasn't right, called out to Brandao, "No, no, it's G flat in the bass," and so forth.

The fact was that next day at 9 a.m., the young musicians received the score of the Caixinha de Boas Festas, with all the parts written out.

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