Sunday, June 28, 2009

Concerts in New York

The new Performance History Search feature at the New York Philharmonic's website is really useful. There were impressive Villa-Lobos concerts in the 1950s especially, that sometimes included works that are rarely programmed today.

A "Villa-Lobos" search returns 36 works, and it's interesting to look at some of the programmes. Here's one from the Subscription Series at Carnegie Hall in March of 1957 (the 28th & 29th) that featured the Schola Cantorum:
Villa-Lobos / Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1
Schmitt / Salammbo, Suite No. 2
Villa-Lobos / Choros No. 6
Intermission /
Guarnieri / Abertura Concertante
Villa-Lobos / Mandu-çarará
I wish we'd see more performances (and recordings) of the cantata Mandu-çarara. This concert was conducted by the composer.

And here's one from the New York World's Fairgrounds on September 1939, conducted by Walter Burle Marx. [pictured above: a photo of the Perisphere by Alfred Eisenstaedt taken at the Fair in July 1939, from the Life Magazine archive © Time Inc.]

Liszt / A Faust Symphony
Intermission /
Mignone / Maracatu de Chico Rei
Villa-Lobos / Caixinha de boas festas (Magic Windows)
Villa-Lobos / Choros No. 10 (Rasga o Coracao)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Epaminandos Villalba

I've always had a soft spot for Heitor's father Raúl Villa-Lobos, partly because he was a librarian, and partly because he introduced his son to music before his untimely death in 1897, when Heitor was a teenager. I came across this work by the elder Villa-Lobos, a scholar who worked at the National Library in Rio de Janeiro: it's a naval history called "A Revolta da Armada da 6 de septembro 1893".

You can see the work scanned by Google from a book in the Harvard Library, thanks to the website.

You'll notice that Raúl's book is published under the name "Epaminandos Villalba." Heitor Villa-Lobos paid tribute to his father throughout his life by using the pseudonym "Epaminandos Villalba Filho" (filho being the Portuguese version of Jr.) The early piano piece Tristorosa, written in 1910, was published under that name. Later, Heitor used the pseudonym for the texts of a number of works he published in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

This post is a little late; Father's Day has passed, but I liked the title.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão

The 40 edition of the Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão runs from July 5 to July 26th. In honour of the Ano Villa-Lobos, there are many Villa-Lobos works featured this year. The other focus of this year's event is French music, as the Ano da Franca no Brasil is celebrated.

Here are some highlights:

July 5: Orquestra Sinfônica Jovem do Estado. Três Cirandas, orchestrated by Nelson Ayres
July 5: Coro de Câmara da Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. Ave Maria, and Cor dulcis, cor amabilis
July 7: Camerata Fukada. Bachianas Brasileiras #9
July 8: Orquestra Sinfônica de Ribeirão Preto. Bachianas Brasileiras #9
July 10: Chamber Music Concert. String Quartet #1
July 11: Banda Sinfônica do Estado. BB#7 and the Choro movement from the Fantasia em três Movimentos
July 12: Chamber Music Concert. Choros #4 and BB#1
July 13: Grupo de Câmara do Festival. Choros #7
July 15: Chamber Music Concert. Quatuor, Sexteto Mistico, Ciranda das sete notas
July 17: Nelson Freire. BB#4 and A Lenda do Caboclo
July 18: Grupo de Metais do Festival. BB#5
July 18: Orquestra Sinfônica de Santos. BB#2 and BB#7
July 20: Chamber Music Concert. Fantasia concertante for clarinet, bassoon, and piano
July 22: Orquestra Sinfônica Municipal + Fabio Zanon. Guitar concerto
July 23: Cristina Ortiz. A Prole do Bebê nº 1, Alma Brasileira, Valsa da Dor, Festa no Sertão
July 24: Quinteto Villa-Lobos. Quinteto em Forma de Choros, Choros nº 2, BB#5, BB#2, O Trenzinho do Caipira
July 25: Orquestra de Metais Lyra Tatuí. A Lenda do Caboclo
July 25: Fabio Zanon. Choros #01, Preludes, Etudes

Villa-Lobos on Cultura FM: July 2009

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.

Beginning this month, and continuing to the end of the year, Cultura FM will be presenting Turibio Santos in a regular series on Sundays at 11:00 a.m., entitled "O Brasil de Villa-Lobos". The programme on July 26 includes music from the CD "O Raro Villa-Lobos", with the late conductor Silvio Barbato.

Another highlight this month: a concert by Nelson Freire at the 40º Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão (recorded on July 17, and presented on Cultura FM on July 23).

July 2:
20:00 VOZES - canto coral com Naomi Munakata:
Francisco MIGNONE / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS. Coro e Orquestra do Estado de São Paulo. Reg. Naomi Munakata e John Neschiling.

July 4:
10:00 CIRANDA - Academia Brasileira de Música:
Hermeto PASCOAL - Bebê. Camerata Brasílica / Suite Norte-Sul-Leste-Oeste. Quinteto Villa Lobos. / Egberto GISMONTI - Um anjo. Quaternaglia. / Sérgio ASSAD - Uarekena. Quaternaglia. / VILLA LOBOS - New York Skyline./ A lenda do caboclo. Arthur Moreira Lima (piano) / VILLA-LOBOS - Dança dos mosquitos. Orquestra Sinfônica da Rádio Eslovaca. Reg.: Roberto Duarte.

July 7:
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Teresa Lima:
Radamés GNATTALI - Suite brasiliana n° 4. Miguel Proença (piano). / VILLA-LOBOS - Concerto para violão e pequena orquestra. Narciso Yepes (violão). Orquestra Sinfônica de Londres. Reg.: Garcia Navarro. / Johannes BRAHMS - Quarteto para cordas Op. 51 n° 1. Quarteto Belcea.

July 12:
11:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos - Edição Especial:
Doze Estudos para Violão Pedro Pedrassoli (violão) / Suíte Popular Brasileira. Fabio Zanon (violão)

July 19:
11:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos - Edição Especial:
Choros nº 10 (Rasga Coração) / Momoprecoce / Danças Africanas e O Trenzinho do Caipira (sexteto). Orquestra da Radiodifusão Francesa. Reg. Villa-Lobos. Magdalena Tagliaferro (piano)

July 23:
21:00 SALA DE CONCERTO ESPECIAL - 40º Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão:
RECITAL NELSON FREIRE: Robert SCHUMANN - Papillons, Op. 2. / Johannes BRAHMS - Sonata em fá sustenido menor, Op. 2. / Frédéric CHOPIN - Noturno em Sol maior, Op.37 n° 2. Noturno em dó menor, Op. 48 n° 1. Scherzo n°4 em Mí maior, Op. 54. / Claude DEBUSSY - Prelúdio n° 4 - Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir. Prelúdio n° 5 - Les Collines d'Anacapri. Prelúdio n° 8 - La fille aux cheveux de lin. Prelúdio n° 12 - Ministrels. / Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Prelúdio das Bachianas brasileiras n° 4. A Lenda do Caboclo. Gravação realizada em 17 de julho no Auditório Cláudio Santoro.

July 24:
12:00 CONCERTOS DO MEIO-DIA com o Maestro Walter Lourenção:
Chôros n° 9, de Villa-Lobos, com Kenneth Schermerhorn e a Orquestra Filarmônica de Hong Kong.

July 26:
10:00 ENCONTRO COM O MAESTRO com João Mauricio Galindo:
Villa-Lobos em Paris

11:00 O BRASIL DE VILLA-LOBOS com Turíbio Santos - Edição Especial:
Sinfonieta nº 2 / Primeira Suíte para Orquestra de Câmara / Naufrágio de Kleônicos. Orquestra do Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro. Reg. Silvio Barbato

22:00 KALEIDOSCÓPIO com Almeida Prado:
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS - Choros nº 12 / Eric Satie - Trendement / Poudre d'or /Lê Piccadilly e Je te Veux. Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo. Reg. John Neschling / Jean-Pierre Armengand (piano)

July 27:
13:00 DELICATESSEN com Teresa Lima:
27-VILLA-LOBOS - Sonata n° 2 para violoncelo e piano. Marcio Carneiro (violoncelo). Werner Genuit (piano). / SAINT-SAËNS - Suíte para violoncelo e piano Op. 16. Christoph Henkel (violoncelo). Huseyin Sermet (piano).

20:00 ENCONTRO COM O MAESTRO com João Maurício Galindo:
Villa-Lobos em Paris

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fairfax Symphony plays BB#2

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marcelo Lehninger played the Little Train of the Caipira movement from Bachianas Brasileiras #2 at a concert at George Mason University last October. You can listen to the piece, along with music by de Falla and Rimsky-Korsakov, at Instant Encore.

There's lots of other excellent Villa-Lobos available at Instant Encore:
This is only a portion of the many resources available at the Heitor Villa-Lobos page at Instant Encore: it's highly recommended.

Marsalis Brasilianos in Lisbon

Branford Marsalis (who's in Alberta this weekend - in Calgary tomorrow and Edmonton on Sunday - my birthday, hint, hint) is reprising his very successful 2008 Marsalis Brasilianos tour in Europe. He's in Lisbon on July 16th, performing with the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa. I'm assuming the program will include the Fantasia for Saxophone and Orchestra, which Marsalis has pretty much made his own after 27 performances during his US tour.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Villa the Conductor

In his review of the monster (22 CD) Composers in Person set from EMI, "Composers at the wheel", Scott Foglesong gets a chance to critique various composers as performers/conductors. He's pretty positive about Villa-Lobos:
"There are those composers who have played and/or conducted their own music but were really better served by others: Aaron Copland comes to mind in that respect, Paul Hindemith ditto. Heitor Villa-Lobos, on the other hand, did at least as well as anyone else and considerably better than most."
Though many have slammed Villa's conducting, Foglesong is in line with some pretty perceptive critics from the past:
Virgil Thompson:
“The composer conducted one through both pieces with courtesy, making everything clear and keeping us interested at every moment.”

Wesley Wehr:
"Mr. Villa-Lobos was a good conductor, especially of his own music. He could conduct with a glance."

Paul Bowles:
"In his conducting he bounced along with the beat animatedly and managed to keep the sometimes complicated rhythms clear of each other…. The further afield he goes, the more likely he is to bring back discoveries of true charm and value."

Villa-Lobos Children's Book

Portions of this children's book by S Santa Nereide Santa Rosa, and Angelo Bonito are available in Google Book Search. Unfortunately, the cover scan didn't work out. Here it is, from the Sebo do Messias bookstore in Brazil:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Arranging Bachianas Brasileiras #5

A recent post at Albert Combrink's Blog discusses the complicated and interesting matter of arranging Bachianas Brasileiras #5 for voice and piano. The sound that 8 cellos make is not easily reproduced by the piano. The solution of Combrink and Louise Howlett using the guitar-and-voice versions by Villa-Lobos and Segovia as transitions is clever. We'll have a chance to hear it in an upcoming CD, and hopefully it will be published for other musicians to perform.

I agree with Combrink that Villa-Lobos would have approved of an arrangement like this. The whole series of Bachianas Brasileiras includes many different versions by Villa-Lobos (#4 for piano & for orchestra; #2 for cello/piano & for orchestra; #9 for strings & for choir, among others). Villa-Lobos's music came from various traditions that relied on practical arrangements (piano trio and piano-4-hands versions of opera arias from Europe, for example), and on-the-fly improvisations (with the Choroes serenaders as well as the cinema orchestras that Villa played in). I look forward to hearing Howlett & Combrink's BB#5.

Combrink has a couple of other BB#5 posts, including this report on recordings and arrangements. I look forward to following up on some versions I hadn't heard myself. I'm also impressed that Combrink thinks so highly of Wayne Shorter's version, which is my favourite jazz version of Villa-Lobos.

Brazilian Composers at Google Squared

From Google Labs comes Google Squared. Right out of the box, it provides this nifty table of Brazilian composers. Try your own squares at

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yerma in Brazil

Yerma, Villa-Lobos's opera based on Federico García Lorca's play, hasn't been heard in Brazil since 1983, and in America since the Santa Fe Opera's production in 1971. This weekend audiences in Campinas SP will be able to hear arias and duets from the opera, with soprana Elaine de Morais, tenor Rubens Medina, baritone Sebastião Teixeira, and pianist Marcos Aragoni.

The poster to the left is by José Caballero, an artist who painted many works inspired by García Lorca.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Blogger

Blogger is about to turn 10 years old. Time to reminisce!

I've been blogging at The Villa-Lobos Magazine for most of those ten years - my first post was in October 2001. I learned about blogging from Peter Scott at a Netspeed Conference in Calgary, and could see right away that a blog would solve my "What's New" problem at the Villa-Lobos Website (which has been up and running since 1996, by the way).

Those were heady days in the Villasphere: Prof. Tarasti announced the Villa-Lobos Paris Conference, Daniella Thompson published "Stalking Stokowski", and we began seeing reviews for the film Villa-Lobos: Uma Vida da Paixao.

The early posts are full of dead links, I'm afraid. You can no longer listen to the Live365 and Radio Sonicnet all-Villa-Lobos all the time stations. Still, it's nice to revisit some sites that are still in operation: Klassika - die deutschspachigen Klassikseiten is very cool, for example.

Over the years I've met so many very nice people from around the world thanks to The Magazine. I'm not surprised that Brazil has the second highest Blogger traffic after the U.S. - many Brazilians are avid followers of The Magazine, and many of those have Blogger sites of their own. Canada, by the way, is #5 in Blogger traffic. Since I turned on Google Analytics in October 2007, The Villa-Lobos Magazine has had about 100,000 visits from 170 countries/territories: the US is #1, Brazil is #2, and Canada #3.

Congratulations to Google on 10 years for Blogger.

The mystery of Leopold Stokowksi

William Ander Smith's 1990 book The mystery of Leopold Stokowksi is a good read, which isn't a surprise considering the subject. I've meant to mention it before, but here's a technology-related reason to do so. I just heard about the new features available in Google Book Search, one of which is embedding book previews. Here's Smith writing about the famous Stokowski recording of Uirapuru:

You can search within the embedded application to find more references to Villa-Lobos. Villa and Stokowski, two larger-than-life characters, seem to have really hit it off. Smith's book is still in print and available at

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Villa-Lobos's Musica Sacra

Jill Burleson's overview of Villa's sacred music is the feature piece in the latest issue of Choral Journal, the official publication of the American Choral Directors Association, which is available on their website in PDF format. I was especially impressed with Burleson's discussion of the Musica Sacra collection published by Vincente Vitale in 1951/52. It's no coincidence, since her 2007 Doctoral thesis was "Selected choral works from 'Musica Sacra' by Heitor Villa-Lobos: A performance edition critical notes and commentary." It's encouraging to see this increased interest in Villa's sacred music. I hope it results in more performances and recordings in the future.

PostScript: Here's a coincidence. Right after I posted this, I came across this tweet @onradio3now from BBC Radio3 with the playlist for tonight's Through the Night program. It includes this performance from Danish Radio:
Villa-Lobos, Heitor (1887-1959): Kyrie and Gloria (Missa Sao Sebastiao)
Danish National Girls Choir
Michael Bojesen (conductor)
You can listen to this program (June 17/09) on BBC's iPlayer for the next 7 days. Thanks again, Twitter.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

South American Getaway

Martin Menking during the recording session for the EMI-CD Southamerican Getaway in the Siemens-Villa, Berlin, January 2000 - a photo by Koettlitz from Die 12 Cellisten der Berliner Philharmoniker website. This is an album that has stood the test of time.

International Guitar Research Archive

The International Guitar Research Archive has a Digital Collection at California State University Northridge's Oviatt Library. There are 243 Villa-Lobos discs in the IGRA discography, most of them from the LP period.

Here's a 1986 Wergo LP by Konrad Ragossnig (which was re-released on CD - here's the discography reference at Ragossnig's website):

I love the look and feel of LPs. The Digital Collection includes high-resolution scans of the back covers, and it took me back to a time when discs had two sides. I don't miss the scratches and pops though.

This collection of LPs is certainly a challenge to my idea of how many Villa-Lobos discs are actually out there. I recently passed 400 discs in my database at The Villa-Lobos Website, most of which are from the CD period, and perhaps only 100 of which are guitar discs. Someday I'll attempt to add these discs to database, and someday I'll attempt to listen to them all. Ebay, here I come!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

São Paulo Samba DVD

A newly-released DVD with John Neschling conducting the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra includes an exciting mix of music by Latin American composers: Piazzolla, Ginastera, Mignone, and many others. I'm looking forward to watching Villa-Lobos's Choros #10 in a high quality video with surround-sound. This is one of Villa's greatest works, and Neschling's reviews for his Villa-Lobos performances with the Osesp have been universally positive.

I'm guessing that the performance included in this DVD is from last year's New Year's Eve concert at the Sala Villa-Lobos. That version is available on YouTube, and it's exciting:

The second part is available here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brazilian World Music on NML

The Naxos Music Library comes through again. As I've mentioned many times to people here in Red Deer (where my Public Library licenses NML for our customers) there's a wealth of non-classical music available from this service. I love their Jazz Legends and Nostalgia discs; you can't go wrong with Charlie Parker or Fred Astaire.

NML has always been strong in the World Music arena as well, but I hadn't paid much attention until I started listening to Brazilian discs from Nimbus, a recent addition to NML's large stable of independent labels.

I knew the four-disc set NI1741 Dance Music from Brazil (Choros & Forro). Included are great songs by masters like Pixinguinha, Nazareth, and Jacob do Bandolim. This is the music of the Chorões that Villa first heard as a young boy around the turn of the 20th century, and then had a chance to participate in himself as a young man (his nickname was "Classical Guitar").

NI5523 Modinhas Brasileiras (Songs from 19th Century Brazil) provides a window into an earlier period which also had an important influence on Villa-Lobos's music. Soprano Andrea Daltro is supported by a small chamber ensemble in an interesting mix of salon pieces and folk-songs from the late 1800s, some of them in arrangements by later composers like Hekel Tavares, Santoro, and (in the anonymous folk-song Viola quebrada) Villa-Lobos. A stand-out is the traditional tune Se esse rua fosse minha - I love the way Daltro whistles at the end. There are many other lovely pieces in this disc, and all are beautifully sung.

The disc NI5462 Quintetto Brassil plays Brazil (Brass Music from Northeast Brazil) includes three of Villa's Cirandas (originally written for piano), arranged for brass quintet. These little folksong-inspired pieces sound great in their new brass clothes.

I look forward to exploring more of the Nimbus catalogue, and also to broaden my horizons in Brazilian folk, instrumental, and world music in the Naxos Music Library.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Video from O Entrelinhas on TV Cultura

This video clip from the program O Entrelinhas on TV Cultura includes all sorts of goodies for the Villa-Lobos lover:

Unfortunately, a non-Portuguese-speaking VL lover like myself is in the dark for much of the 8:20 minutes included here. The highlight for me, though, is the little bit with Tom Jobim and Villa's cigar-holder, beginning at 5:25. This is true hero-worship!

Other items of interest:
  • at 0:35, some video clips of Villa-Lobos playing the piano and composing;
  • at 6:00, a clip from Sinfonia da Alvorado (1960), with music by Jobim, poetry by Vinicius de Moraes, and scenes of the construction of Brasilia;
  • at 6:35, a picture of the new Guia Pratico edition published by Funarte and ABM, with some images of Villa's Canto Orpheonico period that I haven't seen before; and
  • finishing off the video, Antonio Meneses playing the cello with the Osesp under the direction of John Neschling, in the 2nd Cello Concerto.

Robert Bonfiglio plays the Harmonica Concerto on YouTube

Robert Bonfiglio has been the Villa-Lobos Harmonica Concerto's best advocate for many years. He's played in venues large and small all around the world. It's great to have the lovely second movement of this piece (in a live performance from Leipzig) matched with lovely pictures of the Amazonian rainforest.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Publication of a new edition of the Guia Prático

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Death of Villa-Lobos, the Academia Brasileira de Música has released the first volume of the revised edition of the Guia Prático para educação artística e musical.
ISBN: 978-85-88272-16-3 (ABM)
ISBN: 978-85-7507-105-2 (FUNARTE)
Editoras: Academia Brasileira de Música/FUNARTE
Ano: 2009
Número de páginas: 440 (Completo)
Acabamento: Lombada quadrada
Formato: 20 cm x 28 cm
Autor: Manuel Corrêa do Lago

Friday, June 5, 2009

Alvaro Henrique plays Villa-Lobos

Audio from guitarist Alvaro Henrique's May 9, 2009 concert in Switzerland is available on his website. Download the five Preludes, three Etudes, and Choros #01 here.

Silvio Barbato

I was saddened to hear of the death of Brazilian conductor Silvio Barbato, who was aboard the Air France 447 flight which went down in the Atlantic earlier this week. A pupil of Claudio Santoro, Barbato conducted Santoro's Statues of Man at the 1990 re-opening of the Manaus Opera House. He was best known as the Musical Director of the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.

Barbato was referred to as a Villa-Lobos champion in this sympathetic obituary in the Telegraph. He was music director for Zelito Vianna's 2000 film Villa-Lobos: Uma Vida de Paixão. The only Villa-Lobos recording I know of that Barbato conducted (besides the film soundtrack) is the 2006 Violão Sinfônico disc with Turibio Santos, which includes Villa's Introdução aos Choros.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BB#4 from the OCC

Luís Gustavo Petri conducts the OCC (Orquestra de Câmara Portuguesa)in a performance of the first movement of Bachianas Brasileiras #4. The sound is pretty good in the HQ version of this video, but I wish we could have seen more of the orchestra and the venue: the 10th Century Convento de Arouca. Check out this excellent site for more on this important building.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Villa-Lobos Quartet in Montréal

James Darling, cellist from Le Quatuor Saint-Germain, sends information about an upcoming concert series on the Île de Montréal which features the great First Villa-Lobos String Quartet. Coincidentally, I've just flown back from Montréal to Red Deer. Would that I could have stuck around in one of my favourite cities until October!

The program of the concerts:

Adagio et Rondo, K 617........W.A. Mozart
Winds of Thera.........Andrew MacDonald
Quatuor no. 1 en do majeur......Heitor Villa-Lobos
Five Tango Sensations........Astor Piazzolla
Le Quatuor Saint-Germain avec Joseph Petric, accordéon de concert

- October 9, 2009 20h Maison de la culture Villeray Saint-Michel (Montréal)
- October 11, 2009 20h Chapelle historique du Bon Pasteur (Montréal)
- October 14, 2009 20h Maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Montréal)
- October 16, 2009 20h Maison de la culture Rivière-des-Praries (Montréal)
- October 17, 2009 20h Maison de la culture Lasalle (Montréal)
- October 18, 2009 16h Théâtre Mirella et Lino Saputo, Maison de la culture Saint-Léonard (Montréal)

String Quartet #01 is becoming very popular; it couldn't happen to a better piece!