Friday, February 8, 2013

Villa-Lobos: the Albuquerque Connection

"Speaking of the cello, I wish to remember here the cello art of Villa-Lobos. His performances evoked well what he must have been earlier, the young cellist Villa-Lobos.

"He still played with gallantry, with perfect intonation, and with such virtuosity. Not without effort. He arose at eight in the morning and practiced until lunch, and all the time . . . with the inseparable cigar in his mouth. What a curious temperament!"
This is pianist João de Souza Lima speaking of his old friend Villa-Lobos, in a 1967 lecture. Printed in 1969 in Presença de Villa-Lobos, we now have an English translation thanks to Fred Sturm.This entertaining memoir adds so much to one's understanding of Villa's character.

Fred has added a number of really interesting items to his website that advance Villa-Lobos scholarship. The most important is his translation of Antônio Chechim Filho's Excursão Artística Villa-Lobos, the fascinating story of Villa-Lobos's 1931 excursion to rural Brazil by the team's piano technician. Another is the section of family life from Luis Guimarães Villa-Lobos, Visto da plateia e na intimidade, by Villa's first wife. Finally, Fred has added scans of the Cirandas as they appear in the original Guia pratico, which will be of great interest to pianists.

Fred continues his valuable Villa-Lobos performances this spring, with all-Villa-Lobos concerts at UNM in March and May 2013, and a Villa-Lobos/Nazareth/Milhaud concert at the Outpost Performance Space. New Mexico has always been important to Villa-Lobos fans because of the 1971 production of Yerma by the Santa Fe Opera. Now Fred Sturm is turning Albuquerque into a prime Villa-Lobos city, with his concerts, recordings and scholarship.

Here's Sexteto mistico, from a concert Fred organized last February. The whole 125th Anniversary Concert is available on YouTube here.

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