Sunday, January 27, 2008

Paris Symposium: Le piano brésilien

Thanks to the blog of the Association Bresilienne de Concerts, here is the website of an interesting symposium (colloque) in Paris, which takes place at the end of this month and the beginning of February, organized by the Université de Paris-Sorbonne, the Observatoire Musical Français, the Université Fédérale du Paraná, and PPGMúsica. It's called "Le piano brésilien: Composition, interprétation, pédagogie."

Two concerts will be presented as part of the Symposium, on January 31 and February 1. Works by Villa-Lobos to be performed include Sonata-Fantasia #1 for violin & piano, A Tres Marias, Choros #5, and O trenzinho do Caipira.

Here are the papers to be presented:

  • Danielle Pistone - Université de Paris-Sorbonne, Paris4
    Le piano brésilien : situation et perspectives
  • Zélia Chueke - Universidade Federal do Paraná
    La musique brésilienne pour piano : une pluralité culturelle
  • Luiz Paulo Sampaio - Université de Rio de Janeiro
    Le rôle du piano dans la vie musicale et culturelle de Rio de Janeiro de la fin du XIX siècle à nos jours
  • Paula da Matta Université de Rio de Janeiro -
    Le romantisme et le piano brésilien contemporain
  • Isaac Chueke Conservatoire Superior de Musique et Beaux Arts du Paraná-
    Le Trio de Francisco Braga : (trio)mphe de la musique de chambre romantique brésilienne
  • Fredi Gerling - Université Federale du Rio Grande do Sul
    Performance analysis and Analysis for performance: a study of Francisco Mignone's valsa de esquina nº2
  • Maria Helena Elias - OMF (Paris-Sorbonne)
    La création pianistique contemporaine au Brésil
  • Cristina Caparelli Gerling - Université Federale du Rio Grande do Sul
    Tradition and innovation in recently composed Brazilian Piano Pieces

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Villa-Lobos on Cultura FM: February 2008

Here are Villa-Lobos performances upcoming on Cultura FM from Sao Paulo. Listen here on the Internet. Times are local Sao Paulo times, one hour ahead of EST.

This month's highlight is the Feb. 18th Bachianas Brasileiras marathon (#1-#5, plus #9).

Feb. 1
06:00 A ESCRITA DE CÂMARA - Solistas e pequenas formações: Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Concerto para violão e pequena orquestra. Orquestra de Câmara Brasileira. Direção Bernado Bessler. Turíbio Santos (violão). Bachianas Brasileira N° 9 Orquestra de cordas. Fantasia para saxofone e orquestra. Orquestra de câmara Brasileira. Paulo Moura saxofone. Ciranda das sete notas. Orquestra de câmara Brasileira.Noel Devos (fagote)

Feb. 2
12:00 CONCERTOS DO MEIO DIA com o maestro Walter Lourenção Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Bachianas Brasileiras n° 4. Orquestra Sinfônica do Novo Mundo. Reg.: Michael Tilson Thomas./ Richard STRAUSS - Assim Falou Zarathustra, op. 30. Orquestra Sinfônica da Rádio Bávara. Reg.: Lorin Maazel

Feb. 3
22:00 KALEIDOSCÓPIO com Almeida Prado: VILLA-LOBOS - Momoprecoce. Orquestra Filarmônica de Jena. Reg.: David Montgomery./ Quarteto n°5. Quarteto de cordas Bessler-Reis.

Feb. 4
20:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos: Suite Popular Brasileira , Choros N° 5, Paulo Pedrassoli (Violão)./ Amazonas, Orquestra Sinfônica da Rádio da Eslovaquia. Reg. Roberto Duarte

Feb. 6
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi. Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - "Impressões seresteiras" do ciclo básico. Miguel Proença (piano). / Pablo de SARASATE - Malagueña Op.21 No.1. Itzhak Perlman (violino). Samuel Sanders (piano) / Johannes BRAHMS - "Poco allegretto com variazoni - Doppio movimento" do Quarteto para cordas No.3 em si bemol maior Op.67. Quarteto Italiano. / Frédéric CHOPIN - Valsa No.1 "Grande valsa brilhante" em mi bemol maior Op.18. Maria João Pires (piano).

Feb. 10
19:00 NOVO MUNDO - A Música das Américas: Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Quinteto em forma de choros. Quinteto Villa-Lobos./ Manuel PONCE - Concerto para violino. Henryk Szeryng (solista) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Dir.: Enrique Batiz./ Aaron COPLAND - Quiet City. Orquestra Filarmônica de Nova York. Dir.: Leonard Bernstein

Feb. 11
11:00 TEMA E VARIAÇÕES com o Maestro Julio Medaglia. Concertos para piano de villa-Lobos.

20:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos: Erosão, Alvorada na Floresta Tropical, Gênesis . Orquestra Sinfonica da Rádio Tcheca. Reg. Roberto Duarte

Feb. 14 - Happy Valentine's Day!
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi. Johann Nepomuck HUMMEL - Primeiro movimento do Concerto para piano em lá maior, S4/W24. Howard Shelley (piano). London Mozart Players. Reg.: Howard Shelley. / Jean-Baptiste LULLY - Chantons tous de l'Amour. Les Arts Florissants. Reg.: Willian Christie. / Antonio VIVALDI - Concerto para flauta transversal em ré maior RV 427. Barthold Kuijken (flauta). Academia Montis Regalis. Reg.: Barthold Kuijken. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Plantio do Caboclo. João Carlos Assis Brasil (piano).

Feb. 18
20:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos: Sinfonia n° 4 e Sinfonia n° 6. Orquestra Sinfônica de Stuttgard. Reg. Carl St. Clair

22:00 SALA DE CONCERTO: Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Bachianas Brasileiras n° 1. The Yale Cellos. / Bachianas Brasileiras n° 2. Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo. Reg.: Roberto Minczuk. / Bachianas Brasileiras n° 3. Jean Louis Steuerman (piano). Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo. Reg.: Roberto Minczuk. / Bachianas Brasileiras n° 4. Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo. Reg.: Roberto Minczuk. / Bachianas Brasileiras n° 5. Victoria de Los Angeles (soprano). Orquestra Nacional da Radiodifusão Francesa. Reg.: Heitor Villa-Lobos. / Bachianas Brasileiras n° 9. Orquestra Nacional da Radiodifusão Francesa. Reg.: Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Feb. 25
20:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos: Choros n° 6. Orquestra Rias. Reg. Heitor Villa-Lobos/Bachianas Brasileiras n° 4. Orquestra Nacional Da Rádio Francesa.Reg. Heitor Villa-Lobos

Feb. 27
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi. Joseph HAYDN - Quarteto em ré maior Op.103, Hob. III .83. Quarteto Festetics. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - "Ballada" de Homenagem a Chopin. João Carlos Assis Brasil (piano). / Johann Sebastian BACH - Sonata para viola da gamba e cravo No.1 em sol maior, BWV 1027. Perez Dworecki (viola). Paulo Gori (piano). / Antonin DVORÁK - "Allegro con brio" Sinfonia em sol maior Op.88. Orquestra Sinfônica da Galícia. Reg.: Victor Pablo Pérez.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Symphony #10 from cpo

Carl St. Clair's excellent series of Villa-Lobos Symphonies on the cpo label comes to a big finish with the recent release of Symphony #10. Here's information on the new release, with some sound clips, from the German JPC online music store.

Though most of the works in the cpo series were either completely unknown, or had only a single rival on CD, there are two recent versions of Symphony #10 easily available. One is a Harmonia Mundi release from 2003, with Carmen Cruz Simo conducting the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra. The other is from Koch International, released in 2000, with Gisele Ben-Dor conducting the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra.

I'm looking forward to listening to more than just clips from the new cpo release. The culmination of the Symphonies series is a really amazing accomplishment by St. Clair, his Stuttgart players, and cpo. It will take some time before we can properly judge Villa-Lobos as a symphonist, placing his symphonic cycles among his other great cycles: the Bachianas, the Choros, the String Quartets, the orchestral tone poems, and the concertos. This couldn't have happened without these discs.

Congratulations, Carl!

[thanks to Borris Mayer for the heads-up on this]

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Villa-Lobos String Quartets

While I post this, I'm listening to the Quarteto Amazônia play Villa-Lobos's 8th and 9th String Quartets, on Radio UOL:

This is from a double CD Kuarup disc that finishes off the 17-work series of complete quartets begun by the Bessler-Reis Quartet (who play #1-6, and 12-17).

I have the discs at home, and feel good about having access to these great works. It's convenient to listen online as well - the Radio UOL service is great. It is low-fi, though, so you might want to buy the MP3s from And of course, you can look for the Cuarteto Latinoamericano or Danubius Quartet (on Marco Polo), on CD or MP3s. Your best bet for value, though, comes from Brilliant Classics - they've repackaged the Cuarteto Latinoamericano discs from Dorian at a very nice price. This set, by the way, shows up in a lot of eBay vendor sites. There are a few other options for these works. One is #6 played by The Hollywood String Quartet, in a historic performance now on CD.
Another way to listen to VL's string quartets is at a live concert. Next Sunday, if you're in Southern California, you can hear #4 played by the Cuarteto Latinoamericano.

I don't think we can call the Villa-Lobos quartets unknown any more; not with this many CDs, MP3s, online streams, and live performances out there.

But coming back to the Kuarup set, you can read the notes online at the Kuarup site, or in Google-English-ish translation. They include an essay by Antonio Hernandez entitled "Confronto de colossos". The other colossos that Villa confronts in his String Quartet series is Bela Bartok. Are the cycles of quartets by Bartok and Villa-Lobos the greatest two of the 20th century? I would guess lots of music lovers would agree with Bartok, but they might think of Shostakovitch or ten or twelve other composers before they'd come up with Villa-Lobos.

The tendency in much of the literature about string quartets is to remind people that Villa-Lobos wrote in this genre at all, since everyone tends to write and talk about the folkloric side of his music: the Bachianas and Choros series, and the guitar music. Another common thread is to talk about Villa the innovator, as in this excerpt from Robin Stowell's 2003 Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet (p. 161):

Remarkably, Villa-Lobos wrote, as early as 1916, a complete movement with left-hand pizzicatos and double harmonics, effects only rarly tapped before in the medium. His subsequent exploitation of harmonic effects in his Third Quartet is remarkable, as are, on paper at least (because they rarely sound!), the ponticello harmonics required by Berio in his Sincronie.

We'll see if the Villa-Lobos quartets can climb the ladder of composer reputations in the coming years, at least part-way as high as the Villa-Lobos devotees might think they deserve.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The story of Magdalena

The Writers' Guild of America strike is currently making plenty of news, as did the Broadway Stagehands' strike which ended last November. Something like this had an impact on the life of Villa-Lobos in 1948, in connection with his show Magdalena:

"Magdalena ran into a musicians' strike and became a cause célèbre when the producers claimed the piece was immune from union rules because it was not a musical but an opera. After deliberating, the union announced that, since it was playing in a legitimate theater, it was not an opera but a musical, and closed it, along with all the other musicals. And you thought it didn't matter."

[from a 2002 New York Times article by William Wright]

I'm putting together the page for Magdalena on The Villa-Lobos Website. It's well-timed, with the 60th Anniversary of the show coming up, and with so many resources out there to lassoo and bring together. It's the kind of stuff I like doing. So come on over and see the new page, but it's a work in progress, so watch out for the scaffolding.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The whole history of music is here inside

I'm looking forward to Isaac Karabtchevsky & the Petrobras Symphony's new DVD of A Foresta do Amazonas. Here's a great quote from the maestro, from Joao Sampaio's Para Falar de Musica blog:

“Nenhuma obra dele me marcou tanto como A Floresta do Amazonas”, diz Karabtchevsky em seu camarim, saboreando uma salada entre o concerto e a sessão noturna de gravação. “É um Villa-Lobos moderno, que não perde seu contato com o folclore mas se deixa impregnar por Stravinski e as inovações do modernismo. Toda a história da música está aqui dentro. A série dodecafônica, o piano que lembra John Cage, as citações da nova corrente modernista, Ravel, Bartok. E de repente, tudo desaparece e dá lugar a uma melodia maravilhosa, a um orgasmo romântico”, diz.

The machine translation from Google is awkward, but I think I get the gist of what he's saying:

"No work it marked me as much as The Forest of the Amazon," says Karabtchevsky in his dressing room, a tasting salad between the concert and night recording session. "It's a modern Villa-Lobos, which do not lose your contact with the folklore but is left to impregnate by Stravinski and innovations of modernism. The whole history of music is here inside. The series dodecafônica the piano reminiscent John Cage, the citations of the new current modernist, Ravel, Bartok. And suddenly, everything disappears and gives rise to a wonderful melody, a romantic orgasm, "he says.

There's more on the DVD project at the Sopranois blog.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January Concerts

Happy New Year from The Villa-Lobos Magazine. The coming year promises to be the best ever for live Villa-Lobos concerts around the world. Go to the Villa-Lobos Concert Calendar to see the concerts coming up in 2008.

Highlights for January 2008 include the first VL concert I've come across in India, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano in Santa Barbara, the Tarab Cello Ensemble in Florida, the Jacques Thibaud Trio in Germany, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields performing BB#9 in Vienna & Berlin. There's something for everyone, all over the place!

Villa-Lobos's Addresses & Timelines

In a 1999 article in Brasiliana, Maria Augusta Machado da Silva provides a series of short notes providing information on certain aspects of Villa-Lobos’s life. Speaking about VL's addresses, she says that "...late in life [he] liked to say he had in fact three: Rio de Janeiro, the airplane, and Paris."

In my article "Heitor and Lucilia At Home", I discuss the home of Villa-Lobos and his first wife in Rio de Janeiro, Rua Didimo #10, where they lived from 1919 to 1936.

Thanks to Google Lab's new search technology, you can see important locations from a search of Villa-Lobos's life on a Google map. This isn't perfect: the Naxos Records site shows up high on a Google Search for "Heitor Villa-Lobos", but in this view it results in the Google map with a pin at the Greek island of Naxos. References to President Getulio Vargas and the work Alvorado na Floresta Tropical show up on the map at the two Rio Grande do Sul towns of Getulio Vargas and Alvorada. But you can get a feel for the most important cities of VL's life on this map: Paris, Rio, Sao Paulo, New York and Los Angeles are all there.

Another cool new way of looking at Google search results is the Timeline view. This one is limited to Villa-Lobos's lifetime (1887-1959), and here's one for the important years of the 1920s. As Google Labs improves their search and presentation algorithms, we'll have new ways of looking at the Timeline of Villa-Lobos's life. Meanwhile, check out the Cronologia Illustrada - the Illustrated Time-Line at the new Museu Villa-Lobos website, with lots of pictures. And the Villa-Lobos Timeline at The Villa-Lobos Website is starting to come together with some useful content.