Thursday, March 31, 2016

Villa conducts Forest of the Amazon

In my last post I talked about Villa-Lobos conducting his own music. On the recording side I quite naturally focussed on the Paris Pathé-Marconi sessions of the mid-1950s. But there was also an important recording session in New York in 1958, just over a year before Villa died.

Recording session pics, photo from Museu Villa-Lobos.

This was A Floresta do Amazonas, Forest of the Amazon, the great suite Villa-Lobos put together from the music he wrote for (and very little ended up in) the MGM picture Green Mansions. The orchestra and choir was the Symphony of the Air and Chorus, and the star soprano was Bidu Sayão, who had recorded a famous version of Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 with the composer. This is amazing music, and though the music is heavily abridged, an amazing recording.

There are modern recordings, including an excellent one by Renee Fleming and Alfred Heller, and a fine Brazilian CD conducted by Isaac Karabtchewsky. But, as so often happens with Villa-Lobos, authenticity rules!

Villa thanks his players. Great job, everyone!

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