Monday, December 17, 2001

Christmas Gift

It's only a week until Christmas, and time again to listen to Praesepe, the beautiful choral piece Villa-Lobos wrote in 1952. Praesepe is based upon a medieval poem about the Nativity. For more information, and to hear the piece as performed by the Corydon Singers, go to A Villa-Lobos Christmas Gift.

Or, if you'll be in St. Louis over the holidays, catch the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus concert "A Latin-American Christmas", at St. Francis De Sales Church, on December 23, 2001. Also featured in this concert is the Gloria from VL's great Missa Sao Sebastiao. Thanks to Philip Barnes, Artistic Director of the SLCC, for this information. Check out the Chorus' excellent website as well.

Magdalena on CD

In a recent posting (Oct 27) I mistakenly said "Though Magdalena has recently been revived around the world (in Germany and in Los Angeles in 1999), we still need a good modern CD to bring this music to the attention of the large new Villa-Lobos fan base that's grown up in the last ten years" As my friend Bert Berenschot has pointed out: 'This "good modern cd" is available for years (since 1989) on Sony Records.' Bert goes on to note that 'At Amazon it is filed under Popular Music, as are many other Villa-Lobos cd's! Some things go very wrong at Amazon. For example all Kuarup records of Villa-Lobos are filed at popular.' Check out Magdalena here.

Thanks so much for the correction, Bert. I haven't heard this music yet, but I have my order in at Amazon. Actually, Ricardo Prado mentions the recording in his column, though he says that it's out of print. According to their website, Amazon will ship in 3 to 4 days.

While you're at Amazon, check out Bert's reviews and Villa-Lobos lists - I think very highly of Bert's critical faculties: he knows his Villa-Lobos!

Here's a very interesting site that deserves further investigation. Unfortunately for me, it's entirely in Portuguese. I use Altavista's Babelfish online translation service to get a feel for what's happening in Portuguese websites or e-mails, but the state of the art of machine translation just isn't ready for something like this.

The site is Crônica de Érico Veríssimo sobre os encontros e as vivências dele com Villa-Lobos. Verissimo apparently knew Villa-Lobos, in Brazil in the 20's, and later in Los Angeles. The report of happenings in L.A. has apparently been the cause of some controversy. A recent article in the May 2001 issue of Brasiliana (the journal of the Brazilian Academy of Music) includes an article by Robert Stevenson discussing the visit. Here, from the Academy's website, is an abstract of the article:

Abstract - "Villa-Lobos visit to Los Angeles", Robert Stevenson
"Exchange of acrid remarks, scorn and unpleasantness seem to have been the note of the meeting between two important figures of Brazilian culture in USA, in 1944. Hector Villa-Lobos was visiting the country and Erico Verissimo, who was there for a series of lectures, acted as his interpreter. The article raises questions about the story told by Verissimo, confronting it with the newspapers' accounts made at the time, ascertaining ill-founded pieces of information. The author detects that personal issues led the writer to make a not very benign portrayal of Villa-Lobos."

I'm anxious to get an English translation of the Verissimo memoir. The players are of great interest: Lukas Foss, Werner Janssen, Walt Disney. I'll report on this in the future.