Thursday, August 29, 2002

September VL Listening on Cultura FM

Here are some radio programs you might want to watch out for on Sao Paulo's Cutural FM - listen here on the Internet. Times are local Sao Paulo times, one hour ahead of EDT.

Sept. 7, 1 p.m.: Marlos Nobre's Homenagem a Villa-Lobos is played by guitarist Joaquim Freire. This is from a Leman Classics CD.

Leman Classics CD: Marlos Nobre

Sept. 17, 11 a.m.: The 3rd Piano Trio is played by the Brazilian players Yara Bernette, piano, Ayrton Pinto, violin and Antonio del Claro, cello. On the same program, pianist Arnaldo Estrela plays the Poema singelo. I presume these are both from Brazilian CDs.

Sept. 18, 11 a.m.: The great bassoonist Noel Devos (who was born in France, but who has lived in Brazil since 1952) performs the Ciranda das sete notas for bassoon and strings with the Orquestra de Câmara Brasileira under the direction of Bernardo Bessler.

Sept. 23, 11 a.m.: Pianist Nahim Marun and violinist Claudio Cruz perform the Sonata Fantasia n° 2.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

New World Symphony Music of the Americas Festival

The New World Symphony, based in Miami Florida, bills itself as "America's Orchestral Academy." The NWS "trains the most gifted graduates of distinguished music programs for leadership positions in orchestras and ensembles around the world."

The New World Symphony is best known to Villa-Lobos lovers, of course, through their very successful 1997 CD Alma Brasileira, with NWS Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas. My review of that CD is here. I still enjoy this CD very much - especially Choros no. 10, which does credit to the capabilities of the orchestra and its conductor, to the producers and engineers at BMG for its amazing sound, and of course to Villa-Lobos - it's an amazing work!

In mid-September, the New World Symphony is presenting a free four-concert festival of North and Latin American works entitled "Music of the Americas." Two Villa-Lobos works will be included. The modernist Quintet em Forme de Choros, written in Paris in 1928, will be performed on September 13, in a Woodwind, Brass and Wind Ensembles Concert conducted by David Amado.

The following night, September 14, conductor Gisele Ben-Dor, best known in the VL world for her very well-reviewed recording of VL's Symphony no. 10 "Amerindia", will conduct the Bachianas Brasileiras no. 9.

Besides these two VL works, the four concerts include masterworks by Revueltas and Ginastera, and a really nice mix of works by such composers as VL's close friend Edgard Varèse, Samuel Barber, Michael Tilson Thomas and Joan Tower. Sounds like a really interesting festival, and the price is certainly right!

Monday, August 19, 2002

The Villa-Lobos Letters in Paperback

Martin Anderson at Toccata Press has let me know that Lisa Peppercorn's book The Villa-Lobos Letters is now available in paperback.

Complete information is available at the Toccata Press site. You can order the hardcover and paperback Letters from, though only the hardcover version is listed at

This really is an interesting book, containing valuable insights into Villa-Lobos's life at important times of his life. Peppercorn was for many years the main source of information about Villa-Lobos in English. Now that we have new sources of biographical information we can take Peppercorn's biases into account - notably her championship of VL's first wife Lucília over his eventual life-partner Arminda. Still, Peppercorn's intimate knowledge of VL's life - especially in the 1930's - and her access to source documents makes this volume an absolute must for those of us interested in this extraordinary, and very human, composer.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

August Villa-Lobos Listening on Cultura FM

Here are some interesting radio programs on Sao Paulo's Cutural FM - listen here on the Internet. Times are local Sao Paulo times, one hour ahead of EDT.

August 15: Cristina Ortiz plays the important piano part in Bachianas Brasileiras #3, with Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Bonus solo pieces: A lenda do caboclo and Alma Brasileira (Choros #5).

August 19, 4 a.m.: The music for violin and piano isn't well known - the Sonata Fantasia no. 2 is an impressive work. This performance is by Claudio Cruz, violin, and Nahim Marun, piano, from a Brazilian CD that's not easily available in North America or Europe.

At 11:00 a.m. the same day, the program is "Ciranda - Academia brasileira da música," which includes some very interesting Brazilian music. Camargo Guarnieri's 3rd Symphony is played by the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, conducted by Johh Neschling. Next is a piece by the Villa-Lobos scholar turned composer Richard Tacuchian entitled Impulsos. Finally, Cristina Ortiz plays Impressões seresteiras from Villa-Lobos's Brazilian Cycle.

August 22, 11:00 a.m.: Pianist Martha Marchena performs the short but interesting Três Marias, and Cristina Ortiz plays A prole do bebê (I presume that's the first suite).

Sunday, August 11, 2002

New Villa-Lobos Email List

I'm testing a new feature on The Villa-Lobos Magazine - an email newsletter that will send Villa-Lobos Magazine postings to your email inbox. The service comes via - to sign up just add your email address to the form below:


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Tuesday, August 6, 2002

New CDs from Brana Records

I've just received three new CDs from Mark Walmsley, Executive Producer at Brana Records. Most exciting is Villa-Lobos Live!, which includes two major works for piano and orchestra played by the legendary pianist Felicja Blumental.

Listen Now at Brana Records!

Though I've only had the chance for a quick listen, it's clear that this is an important issue, on musical as well as historical grounds. The 5th Piano Concerto was dedicated to Felicja Blumental (1908-1991), who was born in Poland but who lived in Brazil from 1942. This splendid pianist played the work at its premiere in London in 1955 with the composer at the podium. An version of of the work with Blumental and Villa-Lobos playing with the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française has long been available as part of the 6-CD set Villa-Lobos par lui-meme. I'm anxious to hear these two works side by side.

The other major work is the excellent but underplayed Bachianas Brasileiras no. 3, written in 1938. This work matches Blumental with the Filarmonica Triestina. There's a trade-off here: this is a less accomplished orchestra, and certainly the work is less authoritatively interpreted by conductor Luigi Toffolo. However, I would argue this is a much greater work than the later, more flashy 5th Piano Concerto. More on this CD soon...

The other two CDs are interesting as well, and sound great. Felicja Blumental also plays piano in the CD Brazilian Forms. The big work here is Hekel Tavares Concerto in Brazilian Forms for Piano and Orchestra, a piece that sounds on first hearing surprisingly unlike Villa-Lobos. With conductor Anatole Fistoulari and the London Symphony Orchestra providing excellent support, the work is given the best possible presentation. Also on this CD are two works by Albeniz with Blumental accompanied by Italian orchestras.

On another CD soprano Annette Celine (Felicja Blumental's daughter) sings Cantigas - Brazilian Songs: music by Waldemar Henrique and Villa-Lobos, along with a sampling of the best South American composers of art songs. The three Villa-Lobos songs are all well-known, and among the composer's best: Cançâo Do Poeta Século XVIII, Nesta Rua, and Vióla Quebrada (one of my favourites, from the Chansons typiques bresiliennes, published in Paris in 1929). This is a marvellous recital - Celine's still strong voice combines with a completely solid grasp of the phrasing and rhythms of this music. Young pianist Christopher Gould provides excellent support, which is so important, since nearly every song has a piano accompaniment of some importance, and in some cases of distinction.

All three of these new CDs are warmly recommended.

The Brazilian Cycle in Concert

Pianist Seth Montfort plays the marvellous Brazilian Cycle at a concert coming up next weekend in San Francisco. The Ciclo brasileiro, according to Prof. Eero Tarasti, "represents the best in 'national romanticism' that he composed in the 1930s." Each of the pieces - Plantio do caboclo, Impressoes seresteiras, Festa no sertao and Danca do Indio Branco - is "extraordinarily well written for the piano, requiring a virtuoso technique." Representing scenes of Brazilian life, the cycle contains a wide variety of moods and technique. The final Dance of the White Indian is, according to a source I recently read, but can't put my finger on, a self-portrait of the composer.

Here's the information from Mark Pope:

The Englander House Victorian Mansion Concerts - Cathedral Hill Concerts benefiting the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra's International Competitions.
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA, Cathedral Hill/Opera Plaza at 807 Franklin St. (between Turk & Eddy)

The San Francisco Concerto Orchestra
Bach, Villa Lobos and Brazilian Bossa Novas
Saturday, August 10th, 2:00 PM (doors open at 1:30 PM)
$20 advance reservations ($25 at the door)

Seth Montfort will perform Villa-Lobos' Brazilian Cycle for solo piano. The San Francisco Concerto Orchestra performs Bossa Novas by Jobim and Bonfa, including The Girl from Ipanema and many other famous Brazilian songs, all beautifully arranged for orchestra by Mauro Correa and James Shallenberger, one of the founding members of the Kronos Quartet. The Orchestra will also perform Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.

Gregory Barber, conductor, with soloists Victor Romasevich, violin, David Johnson, flute, Rob Chavez, clarinet, Roger Wiesmeyer, oboe, & Mauro Correa, guitar & vocals.

Call (415) 362 - 6080, write, or email for more details. For reservations, send phone number or email address and check payable to San Francisco Concerto Orchestra, c/o Mark Pope, 807 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA.