Friday, February 29, 2008

Missa São Sebastião in Toronto

Though their concert is called "Graçias a la Vida - The Gift of Spanish Song," the Victoria Scholars, a Toronto-based choral group, are fully aware of Villa-Lobos's Brazilian nationality. They'll be performing the Missa São Sebastião, an amazing but rarely-heard choral work by Villa-Lobos, on Sunday March 2, 2008 at 7:30pm, at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Toronto.

If you don't know this work, listen to excerpts from each of the six movements from the awesome Hyperion disc of Villa-Lobos choral works on the music sampler player featuring the Corydon Singers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Choros CD on BIS

I'm enjoying listening to the new BIS Choros CD , with pianist Cristina Ortiz, and John Neschling conducting the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. This is the first disc in a projected BIS series of the complete Choros. Some people think that the series of 13 Choros (or 14 or 15 or 16) is Villa-Lobos's greatest group of works. I'm inclined to think so, myself.

This is my second post on this CD this month; today I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the Naxos Music Library. People in Red Deer can access this excellent resource through Red Deer Public Library's subscription; check to see if your local public or academic library subscribes on your behalf. If not, you can always get a personal subscription; they're very affordable.

NML gives you access to more than Naxos and Marco Polo (as large as those two labels loom for Villa-Lobos lovers!) There are many, many independent labels on NML, like BIS (recently named the Label of the Year by Midem). It's great to be able to listen to this music even before the discs are available to buy. The new BIS disc hasn't showed up yet on the main BIS site, and isn't up on yet, though you can buy it at Presto Classical in the UK.

And Choros #11 is certainly worth listening to!

Speaking of pianist Cristina Ortiz, who also shines in this CD in the solo Choros #5 ("Alma Brasileira"), I've been checking out the Concert Diary on her website. She's certainly a busy pianist, and a great advocate of the music of Villa-Lobos.

She takes Bachianas Brasileiras #3 on a long, long road trip this spring, with stops in Ljiepaja Liepaja, Latvia for the 16th International Piano Stars Festival, in Riga, Talinn, Vilnius, Bergen and Palma, Spain.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Villa-Lobos on Cultura FM: March 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.

Though the station that most consistently plays Villa-Lobos inexplicably misses out on Villa's March 5th birthday, there are some gems this month. There's a live concert from Sao Paulo on the 22nd (repeated on the 26th). And, on the 29th, an interesting bunch of works: Odisséia de uma raça (Odyssey of a Race, the 1945 work dedicated to the state of Israel), plus other rarely heard orchestral pieces: the 2nd Sinfonietta, the first Suite, and Elegia.

March 8:
10:00 CIRANDA - Academia Brasileira de Música: LORENZO FERNANDEZ - Batuque. Orquestra Petrobrás Pró Música. Dir.: Ernani Aguiar. /Cláudio SANTORO - Sonata no. 4. Elisa Fukuda (violino). Giuliano Montini (piano). / AMARAL VIEIRA - Toccata. Max Barros (piano). / Osvaldo LACERDA - Cançoneta. Duo Quanta. VILLA-LOBOS - Quinteto instrumental. Grupo Instrumental de Paris./ Prelúdio de Bachianas 4 / Modinha / Melodia Sentimental. Carlos Barbosa Lima (violão)

12:00 CONCERTOS DO MEIO DIA com o maestro Walter Lourenção: Roberto Duarte rege a Sinfonia n° 6, "Sobre a Linha das Montanhas do Brasil", de VILLA-LOBOS.

March 14:
22:00 SALA DE CONCERTO: ANTÔNIO MENEZES: Johann Sebastian BACH - Suíte n° 6 em ré maior, BWV 1012. Antônio Meneses (violoncelo). / Franz SCHUBERT - Sonata em lá menor para violoncelo e piano, D. 821 - Arpeggione. Antônio Meneses (violoncelo). Gilberto Tinetti (piano). / Robert SCHUMANN - Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 para violoncelo e piano). Antônio Meneses (violoncelo). Gérad Wyss (piano). / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Fantasia para violoncelo e orquestra. Antônio Meneses (violoncelo). Orquestra Sinfônica da Galícia. Reg.: Víctor Pablo Pérez.

March 15:
23:00 NOTURNO: Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Trio n° 3. Artistrio.

March 19:
07:00 DESPERTE COM OS CLÁSSICOS: VILLA-LOBOS - Canção de Amor, de "A Floresta do Amazonas". Bidu Sayão (soprano). Symphony of the Air. Dir.: Heitor Villa-Lobos/ SPOHR - Duo Concertante, op. 67 n° 2. Itzhak Perlman e Pinchas Zuckerman (violinos)/ VIVALDI - Concerto op. 8, n° 1 RV 269 " A Primavera " , de "As Quatro Estações". Itzhak Perlman (Violino). Orquestra Filarmônica de Israel. Reg.: Zubin Mehta/ DELIUS - On Hearing the first cuckoo in the spring. Orquestra de Câmara Inglesa. Reg.: Daniel Baremboim/ BEETHOVEN - 7 variações sobre "Bei Männern, welche Liebe Fühlen". Ronald Turini (piano). Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi (violoncelo).

March 22:
16:30 OSESP AO VIVO - Gravações exclusivas realizadas na Sala São Paulo: VILLA-LOBOS - Alvorada na Floresta Tropical. / TCHAIKOVSKY - Concerto n° 1 para piano em si bemol menor, Op. 23. Solista: Olga Kern. / BEETHOVEN - Sinfonia n° 3 em mi bemol maior, Op. 55 - Heróica. Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. John Neschling, regente.

The above concert is repeated on March 26, at 22:00.

March 29:
10:00 CIRANDA - Academia Brasileira de Música: VILLA-LOBOS - Odisséia de uma raça. Suíte no. 1 para orquestra de câmara. Orquestra Sinfônica do teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro. Dir.: Silvio Barbato. Elegie / Sinfonieta no. 2. Orquestra Sinfônica do teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro. Dir.: Silvio Barbato. / Saudades das Selvas Brasileiras. Anna Stella Schic (piano).

Villa-Lobos on the Marimba

This excellent New York Sun review of a recent New York City concert introduced me to the marimba virtuoso Makoto Nakura. The Villa-Lobos Etudes and Preludes for guitar sound like excellent candidates for transcription to this fascinating instrument. Unfortunately, they're not included in any of Nakura's CDs so far. Let's hope that's coming soon, though!

In the meantime, if you're close to upstate New York on March 2nd, check out this free concert at Binghamton University, part of the fascinating series South of the Border: Explorations, organized by the Binghamton Philharmonic's composer-in-residence Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dia da Música Clássica

The Dia da Música Clássica - Classical Music Day in both the city and the state of Rio de Janeiro - is celebrated (naturally) on March 5th, Villa-Lobos's birthday. This year, the Museu Villa-Lobos will present "Villa-Lobos e Eu" - conversations with people who met Villa-Lobos. They are, in this case, bassoonist Noel Devos, conductor Nelson Nilo Hack, and flutist Odette Ernst Dias.

The Sala Bidú Sayão at the Museu Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro

If you're lucky enough to be in Rio de Janeiro that day, the event starts at 2 p.m. at the Museu, and it's free.

By the way, I don't know of any other place in the world with a Classical Music Day. In a nice coincidence, considering Villa's leadership in Music Education, March is "Music in our Schools" Month in the U.S. (the logo of which is pictured below).

On the fifth of March, and for the next couple of weeks, Rio celebrates the Dia da Música Clássica. You can see what's on by searching for "Dia da Música Clássica" at the Villa-Lobos Website.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Choros Series

Here's an exciting new series coming on CD, from BIS: it will include all of the Choros series, and will feature musicians from Brazil.

The first disc, due to be released March 3rd, includes a great selection from this amazing series: #5 for piano (with Cristina Ortiz), #7 for winds, violin & cello, and #11 for piano (Ortiz) and orchestra (the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Neschling). The CD # is BIS CD440. This CD hasn't showed up on yet (I'll add a link here when it does), but you can pre-order it at Presto Classical in the UK.

The recently completed BIS Bachianas Brasileiras series also features Brazilian artists: #1+#4+#5+#6, #7+#8+#9, and #2+#3+#4. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) plays the orchestral works in this series as well, though the conductor in this series is Roberto Minczuk.

This is an encouraging trend in the world of classical music CDs: complete series (and often with a choice of more than one series) of Villa-Lobos's greatest works (Choros, BB, the piano music, the string quartets) and the not-so-great but still interesting (Symphonies), with excellent performers on enterprising labels (Naxos, BIS, cpo).

Explore on Villa-Lobos Choros

Thanks to Affonso Risi in São Paulo for the heads-up on this.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Villa-Lobos in the WSJ

There's an excellent story in this morning's Wall St. Journal, "Villa-Lobos, Composer Without Borders," by Barrymore Scherer, author of the fine book A History of American Music. It's written on the occasion of The Villa-Lobos Event: Encounters With Brazil, in New York, which takes place this evening, February 9. Besides the great picture,

by Ismael Rodan, there are perceptive quotes from pianist Marcelo Bratke, who helped to organize the event:

"Villa-Lobos's eclectic freedom and openness to stylistic experimentation are at the root of his greatness as a composer."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Searching for Heitor

BBC Music Magazine, one of my favourite periodicals, has revamped its Review database. Of the 20,000 records included (every review in every issue since the magazine began in 1992), there are 40 by Villa-Lobos. That's only 2/10s of one percent - not a lot. Still, these are usually pretty perceptive reviews, though some are quite terse. They include catalogue information, and you might find some discs in this list that you haven't heard yet.

Here's an example of a good one: Christopher Wood's review of Marc-André Hamelin's disc, which recognizes the true nature of A prole do bebê: "dense-textured, hugely complicated scores." So often one sees these two suites referred to as mere "works for children." That they are, but they're also two of the most important works in the 20th century piano repertoire. Buy the Hamelin disc from Amazon.

Friday, February 1, 2008

South America Week

Just in time for this year's (very early) Carnival, it's South America Week on BBC Radio 3, Feb. 3-10. There are quite a few works by Villa-Lobos scheduled, including a few that are rarely programmed. Amazonas, a large work for orchestra, was written in 1916 and first performed in Paris in 1929.

Performance on 3
7 February 2008
BBC Symphony Orchestra

Thursday 7 February 2008 19:00-20:45 (Radio 3)

Petroc Trelawny introduces highlights from the BBC Symphony Orchestra's recent South American Week, featuring orchestral music from Brazil and Argentina, including Astor Piazzolla's tango-influenced Bandoneon Concerto.
Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes

Per Arne Glorvigen (bandoneon)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Enrique Diemecke (conductor)

Ginastera: Panambi Suite, Op 1a
Piazzolla: Bandoneon Concerto (Aconcagua)
Villa-Lobos: Amazonas

Plus tangos played by Tango for 3, bossa nova sung by Monica Vasconcelos and samba drumming.


On Feb. 4th, two great choral works of Villa-Lobos are featured on Afternoon on 3. Bendita sabedoria is one of VL's last works, written in 1958. The rarely performed choral version of Bachianas Brasileiras #9 (1945) is one of my all-time favourite Villa-Lobos works. It must be wickedly hard to sing this amazing music.

Feb. 4, 2.00pm South American Week

A week of music celebrating all things South American as performed by the BBC Orchestras, BBC Singers and friends. Music by South American composers features alongside recordings made on tour in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.

Villa-Lobos: Bendita sabedoria
BBC Singers
Celso Antunes (conductor)

Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes for chamber orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Malkki (conductor)

Ginastera: Panambi, Op 1
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Enrique Diemecke (conductor)

Villa-Lobos: Bachianas brasileiras No 9
BBC Singers
Odaline de la Martinez (conductor)

Lindberg: Chorale (based on Bach: Es ist genug)
Bruckner: Symphony No 9 in D minor
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (conductor)


Later that week on Afternoon on 3, more choral works are featured, along with works by Brazilian composers Mignone, Krieger, Guarnieri, and Santoro.

Feb. 6, 2.00pm

South American Week

Continuing Radio 3's celebration of all things South American as performed by the BBC Orchestras, Singers and friends.

Mignone: Festas das igrejas
Krieger: Passacaglia for the New Millennium
BBC Symphony Orchestra
John Neschling (conductor)

Villa-Lobos: Ave Maria; Pater noster
BBC Singers
Celso Antunes (conductor)

Ginastera: Concerto for piano and orchestra No 1, Op 28
Rolf Hind (piano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin (conductor)

Piazzolla: Suite del angel transc. for string quartet by Eckart Runge
Artemis String Quartet

Guarnieri: Ave Maria
Santoro: Ave Maria
Escobar: Ave Maria
BBC Singers
Celso Antunes (conductor)

Ginastera: Lamentations of Jeremiah
BBC Singers
Stephen Cleobury (conductor)


And on Afternoon on 3, on Feb. 7, after a bunch of rarities, the big VL gun: BB#5.

Feb.7, 2.00pm South American Week

Continuing Radio 3's celebration of all things South American as performed by the BBC Orchestras, BBC Singers and friends.

Revueltas: El Renacuajo paseador (ballet suite)
Guarnieri: Abertura concertante
Piazzolla: Las Cuatro estaciones portenas
Ulster Orchestra
Celso Antunes (conductor)
Palau: Concierto levantino for guitar and orchestra
Fabio Zanon (guitar)
Ulster Orchestra
Max Bragado-Darman (conductor)

Chavez: Symphony No 5
Moncayo: Huapango
Ulster Orchestra
Enrique Barrios (conductor)

Villa-Lobos: Bachiana brasileira No 5
Catherine Bott (soprano)
Ulster Orchestra
Josep Caballe-Domenech (conductor)

Marquez: Danzon for orchestra No 2
Ulster Orchestra
Enrique Barrios (conductor)


Finally, on Feb. 8th, also on Afternoon on 3 (what a great show!), there are more choral works, and an amazing finale, the Quatuor for Flute, Harp, Celesta, Alto Saxophone, and Women's Voices. This is one of Villa's great modernist works.

2.00pm South American Week

Continuing Radio 3's celebration of all things South American as performed by the BBC Orchestras, BBC Singers and friends.

Chopin: Fantaisie-impromptu in C sharp minor for piano, Op 66
Ginastera: Danza del gaucho matrero (Furiosamente ritmico...)
Ingrid Fliter (piano)

Ginastera: Ollantay
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Gisele Ben-Dor (conductor)

Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain for piano and orchestra
Martin Roscoe (piano)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
David Charles Abell (conductor)

Villa-Lobos: 2 Lendas Amerindias em Nheengatu; Canide Ioune
Cardoso: Os Atabaques da Pombagira
BBC Singers
Celso Antunes (conductor)

Ginastera: Harp Concerto
Catrin Finch (harp)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Josep Cabelle-Domenech (conductor)

Ginastera: Popul vuh
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Gisele Ben-Dor (conductor)

Villa-Lobos: Quatuor
BBC Singers
Odaline de la Martinez (conductor)

Bizet: Carmen Suite Nos 1 and 2
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
David Charles Abell (conductor)


The great thing about Radio 3 is that you can listen to programmes online for seven days after they've been broadcast live. Go to the Listen Again page.