Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Instruments of Amazonas

Amazonas is one of the great orchestral works of Villa-Lobos's early period - it was written in 1917, the same year as Uirapuru and the Second Symphony. The orchestra used by Villa-Lobos (under the obvious influence of Stravinsky) was a large one; according to the publisher Max Eschig:
4(2flpic).3(1cor ang).4(1clpic, 1clB).3(1cbn) - 1 sarrusophone - 4(ou 8).4.3.1 - 3perc, 1timb, 1cel, 1pno, 2hp - 1 cythara do arco (ou 1 violinophone), 1viole d'amour - crd
Besides the orchestra taking up the full stage, there are a few interesting items here.

The Sarrusophone is a band instrument with the range similar to a saxophone.

The violinophone is also called the Stroh violin (referred to by Eschig as a cythara do arco). The Wikipedia article doesn't mention any use by classical composers, though the instrument was apparently in vogue in Buenos Aires in the 1920s. This is another example (along with the use of a prepared piano in Choros #08) of Villa-Lobos being ahead of the curve technology-wise.

Just to make it difficult for orchestras to revive this piece, Villa-Lobos added a viole d'amour to the score. It all wasn't enough to keep it off the stage in Albuquerque and Brussels, and there are two three excellent recordings, from Apex, Dorian, and Marco Polo.

Alma Brasileira

Here's a beautiful arrangement for orchestra - by Leandro Carvalho - of Choros #05 for piano (subtitled "Alma Brasileira" - the "Soul of Brazil"). This is from the Sonora Brasil 2008 tour by the Orquestra do Estado de Mato Grosso.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Villa-Lobos on Cultura FM: October 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.

Oct. 1
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi:
Georg Phillip TELLEMANN - Sonata "Metodische" para flauta e baixo contínuo. Hans-Joachim Fuss (flauta). Siegfried Petrenz (cravo). / Giacomo PUCCINI - "Intermezzo Atto III" da ópera Manon Lescaut. Kiri te Kanawa (soprano). Orchestre de L'Opéra National de Lyon. Reg.: Kent Nagano. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Choros No. 7 - Settimino. Músicos da Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. / Louis SPOHR - Concerto para clarinete No.2 em mi bemol maior Op.57. Ernst Ottensamer (clarinete). Orquestra Sinfônica da Rádio Eslovaca. Reg.: Johannes Wildner.

Oct. 8
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi:
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Capriccio Op.49. Rebecca Rust (violoncelo). David Apter (piano). / George Joseph VOGLER - Variações sobre "Marlborough, s'en va-t-en guerre". Felicja Blumental (piano). Nova Orquestra de Câmara de Praga. Reg.: Alberta Zedda. / Radamés GNATALLI - Concerto para violoncelo e piano. Orquestra de Câmara Rio Strings. Reg.: Ernani Aguiar.

Oct. 15 (repeated Oct. 16)
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi. Karl Ditters von DITTERSDORF - Quarteto para cordas No.3 em sol maior. Quarteto Franz Schubert. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Deuxième Sonate-Fantasie. Paul Klinck (violino). Claude Coppers (piano). / Enrique GRANADOS - La Maja y el Rulseñor. Roberto Bravo (piano). / Johann Sebastian BACH - "Allemande" da Suíte BWV 1012. Gustav Leonhardt (cravo).

Oct. 17
12:00 CONCERTOS DO MEIO-DIA com o Maestro Walter Lourenção:
Terceira Suíte de "Descobrimento do Brasil" de Heitor VILLA-LOBOS pelo maestro Roberto Duarte.

Oct. 20
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Bachianas Brasileiras n° 3. Cristina Ortiz (piano). New Philharmonia Orchestra. Reg.: Vladimir Ashkenazy. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Sinfonia n° 1, Op. 112 - O Inesperado. Orquestra Sinfônica da Rádio de Stuttgart. Reg.: Carl St. Clair. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Sinfonia n° 2 - Ascenção. Orquestra Sinfônica da Rádio de Stuttgart. Reg.: Carl St. Clair.

Oct. 21
15:00 TARDE CULTURA - Música e Notícia:
Entre outras obras, Concerto de Brandemburgo n°5 de Johann Sebastian BACH, "A Floresta do Amazonas" de Heitor VILLA-LOBOS e de Johann STRAUSS II, Valsa "Vida de Artista", op. 316.

Oct. 26
22:00 KALEIDOSCÓPIO com Almeida Prado:
Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN - Gruppen para três orquestras. Orquestra Filarmônica de Berlim. Reg.: Cláudio Abbado. Friedrich Goldman. Marcus Creed./ György KURTÁG - Grabstein para Stephan. Stele. Jürgen Ruck (violão). Orquestra Filarmônica de Berlim. Reg.: Cláudio Abbado./ Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Pensées d'Enfant. Claudia Riccitelli (soprano). Toninho Carrasqueira (fluta). Diogo Maia (clarinete). Watson Cliss (cello). Reg.: Gil jardim.

Oct. 27
WAGNER - Abertura da ópera "O Holandês Voador". Orquestra Filarmônica de Munique. Reg.: Hans Knappertsbuch. VILLA-LOBOS - Bachianas Brasileiras n° 5. Barbara Hendricks (soprano). Eldon Fox (violoncelo). Oito Violoncelistas da Filarmônica Real Britânica. / CHOPIN - Polonaise n° 6, op. 53, "Heróica". Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano).

Oct. 28
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Kika Leoi:
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Première Sonate-Fantasie (Desesperança). Paul Klinck (violino). Claude Coppers (piano). / Ernesto NAZARETH - Odeon e Duvidoso. Ida Maltese e Sylvia Maltese (piano). / Alexander BORODIN - Quarteto para cordas em ré maior No.2. Quarteto Brodsky.

Oct. 31
15:00 TARDE CULTURA - Música e Notícia:
Entre outras obras, Fantasia-Polonaise, opus 61 de Frederic CHOPIN, Trechos de "Romeu e Julieta" de Sergei PROKOFIEV e "Uirapurú", balé para orquestra de VILLA-LOBOS.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marijn Simons and the Fantasia de movimentos mixtos

While I was updating the page on the Fantasia de movimentos mixtos on the Villa-Lobos Website, I came across this review of Dutch violinist Marijn Simons' concert with the Long Beach Symphony, back in 2002:
But it was the Long Beach Symphony that invited Simons to return to the Southland, and he appeared as soloist in a Villa-Lobos violin concerto titled "Fantasia de Movimentos Mixtos" (Fantasy of Mixed Movements) Saturday night at the Terrace Theater. Once again, Simons played quirky music to which he had a personal connection, and once again he proved irresistible.

Strangely enough, there was no mention in the program or even by music director Enrique Arturo Diemecke in his concert preview discussion that Villa-Lobos' concerto from 1941 was receiving its U.S. premiere. It had been lost for more than half a century and was only recently found by Simons' father at the bottom of a barrel in an Amsterdam secondhand music shop.

This is from an LA Times review by Mark Swed, April 17, 2002 (from Simons' website). It would be great if Simons would record this piece.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stephen Kelly Plays Heitor Villa-Lobos

Here's an excellent performance of one of my favourite piano pieces: Branquinha (A Boneca de Louça) - Little White Doll (The Porcelain Doll), from the first book of Prole do Bebê. It's by Santa Barbara-based pianist Stephen Kelly:

Thanks to Patrick at visualmyth for the link.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

30,000 Kids

Thirty thousand Rio school children sing under the direction of Villa-Lobos in celebration of Brazilian Independence Day [September 7th]. The band is in the right foreground.

The picture is from "South American Music Pilgrimage. V. Brazil", John W. Beattie and Louis Woodson Curtis, Music Educators Journal, Vol. 28, No. 6 (May - Jun., 1942), pp. 16-22

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Making of Brazilian Soul

Marcelo Bratke & Camerata Vale Música in Concert - from the "making of" feature on the Brazilian Soul DVD. Auditório Ibirapuera São Paulo 2008. There's more concert video from this tour on YouTube here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Villa-Lobos disc at the Latin Grammys

This morning the new Star Track Studio disc by clarinettist Edith Luiz and pianist Javier Vinasco was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award for Best Tango Album.

The disc includes an arrangement of Bachianas Brasileiras #4. You can order the CD from Amazon.com. Though it's presently out of stock, I'm sure this nomination will get things moving again. U.S. residents can download the complete disc or individual tracks in MP3 format:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Go Vols!

I don't get a chance to talk NCAA football much ever here. But every once in a while...

Villa-Lobos is featured before the big Vols-Blazers (U Tennessee-Knoxville vs. U Alabama-Birmingham) game this weekend:


WHAT: Wesley Baldwin, associate professor of the Cello Studio in the School of Music, opens the Pre-Game Faculty Showcase at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with "Brazilian-Bach Fusion: The Music of Villa-Lobos." Baldwin will talk about the cello, and the UT Cello Studio will play one of the most well-known pieces ever written for a group of cellos, the "Bachianas Brazilieras No. 1" by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

WHO: Students, faculty, staff, all football fans.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 13, before UT's game against Alabama-Birmingham.

Another article, from the Knoxville News Sentinel, explains the concept behind this project. It's interesting that Villa-Lobos is the subject of this gridiron demonstration, considering his antipathy towards team sports:

Villa-Lobos found that his concerts were often poorly attended because of the public's preference for soccer, this led him to denounce the sport violently. One of his phrases became famous: "Soccer causes human intelligence to detour from the head to the feet!" The Brazilian soccer fans responded vigorously to the challenge. In one town they bombarded the touring musicians with rotten eggs, and the threat of similar treatment caused the group to leave another town in the early morning hours.

David E. Vassberg, "Villa-Lobos as Pedagogue: Music in the Service of the State," Journal of Research in Music Education, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Autumn, 1975), p. 165

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Obscure Villa on Antena 2

I've posted before on the great Villa-Lobos radio series by Gilda Oswaldo Cruz on Portugal's Antena 2 radio. There's more information here, on the Villa-Lobos Website. There are now 10 one-hour programs in wma format that you can listen to using your handy Windows Music Player. They're great to listen to, even if you have no Portuguese.

There are some extremely rare works included in these programs. A couple of the highlights:
  • Mandu-Çarará, a cantata from 1940. This is close to the top of my list of works I'd like to see on CD.
  • Nonetto. This is from the Gil Jardem CD/DVD I've posted about already.
I also read recently (in a blog posting I've misplaced) that the series will be re-broadcast on Radio MEC in Brazil. When I track this information down I'll post it here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

BB#5 in Waldbühne

I remember when I posted the open-air concert in Waldbühne on the Villa-Lobos Website, wishing that I could attend.

This is the next best thing, in this YouTube world:

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the amazing cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic. Ana María Martínez sings beautifully.

The second movement of the piece is here.

The Adaskin Trio in Lexington

In a concert next week in Lexington KY, the Canadian chamber music ensemble the Adaskin String Trio will be playing the great String Trio of Villa-Lobos. I love this quote from the Charleston Gazette on their website:
"Normally, when three Canadians play a Czech on a Saturday night in Charleston (WV), it means you're watching a National Hockey League game on television. The Canadian trio gave a brilliant performance of the piece (Martinu's String Trio)."
The group is named for Canadian composer Murray Adaskin (1906-2002), whose music sometimes seems a bit like a Great White North version of some of Villa-Lobos's. They both share an interest in folk music and a tendency towards neo-classicism. There are some samples of Adaskin's music here, on the Canadian Music Centre website.

By the way, I consider Villa's String Trio as one of his strongest chamber music pieces, and one of the masterpieces of his late period.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sonia Rubinsky's volume 7

It's great to see this posting on the Naxos.com website. Looks like the last volume of Sonia Rubinsky's great series of the complete Villa-Lobos music is coming to an end.

VILLA-LOBOS, H.: Piano Music, Vol. 7 (Rubinsky) - Amazonas / Historias da Carochinha / Valsa Scherzo
VILLA-LOBOS, H.: Piano Music, Vol. 7 (Rubinsky) - Amazonas / Historias da Carochinha / Valsa Scherzo 8.570503
Amazonas (version for piano) • 5 Preludes (arr. J.V. Brandao for piano) • Bachianas brasileiras No. 2, `O trenzinho do Caipira`: III. Dansa, `Lembrancas do Sertao` (arr. for piano) • Valsa Scherzo • Bailado infernal • Feijoada sem perigo • Historias da Carochinha • Cancoes de Cordialidade • Cortejo Nupcial • Valsa Lenta (fragment)

And what an end it is: besides the bits and pieces she's missed up until now, there are some really interesting arrangements for piano. I see that the piano version of Amazonas is listed in Villa-Lobos, Su Obra, 1972, a transcription made (by the composer?) in 1932. I'm especially looking forward to the Brandao transcription of the Guitar Preludes. I suspect Rubinsky will be an especially good advocate for playing these pieces - as characteristic they are on the guitar - on the piano.