Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nahin Marum's new book on Villa's Vocal works

Nahin Marum's brand new book Revisão crítica das canções para voz e piano de Heitor Villa Lobos publicadas pela editora Max Eschig is available as a free eBook in Chapter's Kobo store. It includes a wealth of information about the manuscripts and published scores of Villa-Lobos's songs. The book is published by Editora UNESP - ISBN: 9788579831102.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Festivals Simfonics Ibero-Americans

In 1929 Villa-Lobos was living in a flat on Place St.Michel in Paris. He was having a great time, hanging out with people like Cocteau, Diaghilev and Varese. He returned to Rio in August, but was back to Europe in October for this Festival of Ibero-American music in Barcelona. This notice in Mirador: setmanari de literatura, art i política includes a notice about a concert on October 25, 1929, that includes two of his greatest works, Amazonas and Choros #10.

I found this thanks to the Spanish Biblioteca Virtual de Prensa Historica.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kuarup is back!

And has been for a while. How did I miss this? It was a huge disappointment when the great Brazilian music company Kuarup went out of business in January 2009. They were an important source of Villa-Lobos recorded by Brazilian musicians, especially in earlier days when there was far less of his music being recorded. Important releases included:
  • the complete string quartets, with the Bessler-Reiss Quartet and the Quarteto Amazônia 
  • some early recordings by the Quinteto Villa-Lobos
  • Roberto Szidon's Cirandas e Cirandinha
  • concertos played by Turibio Santos, Paulo Moura & Noel Devos
  • songs by Leila Guimarães & Teca Calazans
  • important early guitar recordings by Turibio Santos and the Assads
  • two special discs that I'll mention later
Read this 1998 interview by Bruce Gilman of Brazzil, with Kuarup's Mário de Aratanha to get an idea how important Kuarup was back in the day.

Now the company is back, and at the same website address: The present selection on the website doesn't include all of the records mentioned above. The two Villa-Lobos CDs, though, are amongst the most important:

The disc Os Choros de Câmara included all of the Choros for chamber ensemble, played by an all-star lineup that included guitarist Sérgio Assad, pianist Murilo Santos and saxophonist Paulo Moura. This was one of the first CDs I bought from a vendor in Brazil, and it was the first time I heard some important Villa-Lobos works: Choros #3 and 4, and Villa's piano version of #2.

The other disc is a really interesting "rediscovery" of Villa's suite A Floresta do Amazonas, his music from Green Mansions, recorded in the centennial year of 1987.

Created by João Carlos Assis Brasil & Mario de Aratanha, this disc features vocalist Ney Matagrosso and pianist Wagner Tiso.  You can listen to the whole thing, a track at a time, on the Kuarup site.

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Le Concert Impromptu

    This is so cool: the French wind quintet Le Concert Impromptu adds theatre and football to the standard chamber music concert. They'll be presenting their show Allemagne-Brésil this month in a variety of French locations.


    A couple of years ago I wrote about the Brazilian Congress's Livro dos Heróis da Pátria - the Book of Heroes of the Fatherland. Besides Villa-Lobos himself, one of the Heroes is Tiradentes, about whom I wrote:
    Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, known as Tiradentes, was a revolutionary from the same generation as the American Founding Fathers and the French Revolutionaries. From what I've read in the Wikipedia article, he seems somewhat like the Canadian Louis Riel; both were hanged by their governments, and the names of both have lived on as heroes.
    In 1938 Villa-Lobos wrote a Canto patriotico called Tiradentes, which is included in his collection Canto Orfeônico. The text is by Viriato Correa, and the music credit goes to E. Villalba Filho (a commonly used pen-name of Villa-Lobos).

    I haven't come across a recording (or a performance) of this work. The two volumes of Canto Orfeônico are full of interesting choral pieces. Unfortunately, it's not easy tracking down these scores, published by Irmaos Vitale in 1940. I got v. 1 through the excellent Interlibrary Loan service of my library.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012


    Here's a Villa-Lobos work that only a few years ago rarely showed up in concert (I show no performances in the Villa-Lobos concerts database between 2001 and 2009), but which has been quite in vogue lately. A through-composed arrangement of tunes from his 1920 piano suite Carnaval das Crianças, Momoprécoce is a sparkling evocation of the world of the Carnaval, seen through the eyes of children. The work has been played recently by Cristina Ortiz, Simone Leitão (who wrote her thesis on the work), Jose Feghali, and Nelson Freire. Freire will play the work this summer in Sao Paulo (with Marin Alsop conducting the OSESP), and at Tanglewood. The complete list of Momoprécoce in concert is here.

    Here is the first part of a concert featuring another great Brazilian pianist, Marcelo Bratke, with Fábio Mechetti conducting the Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais. The performance begins at the 2 minute mark; I await part 2 impatiently!

    It's interesting that none of the 3 greatest Villa-Lobos works for piano and orchestra is called "Piano Concerto". Though Villa wrote 5 with that name (all of them perfectly good concertos), his stand-outs for piano & orchestra are Choros #11, Bachianas Brasileiras #3, and Momoprécoce.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Jorge Luis Prats plays Caixinha de musica quebrada

    Jorge Luis Prats plays Caixinha de musica quebrada (The broken little music box), from a concert earlier this month at the Miami International Piano Festival. Prats' new CD includes Villa-Lobos as well: the piano version of Bachianas Brasileiras no4.

    Expo Villa-Lobos, take 2

    Last week I wrote about the Villa-Lobos exhibit which is currently at the Shopping Villa-Lobos mall in Sao Paulo. This video shows that it's much more dynamic than the usual presentation. If you're a Villa-Lobos fan, you should be able to get the gist of things even if you don't speak Portuguese.

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Licia Albanese sings Bachianas Brasileiras no5

    A few years ago I bought this 45rpm record on eBay:

    Licia Albanese is the soprano in this famous version of the Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras #5. Frank Miller is the solo cellist, and Leopold Stokowski conducts the cello ensemble. You can listen to this 1953 recording at the Hispana digital library.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Viva Villa! Pelo Brasil

    Shopping Villa-Lobos, a mall in São Paulo, presents the exhibit Viva Villa! Pelo Brasil, in honour of the 125th Anniversary of the mall's namesake's birth in 1887. The exhibit runs from March 5th to April 15th. It's all explained in this story (in English) from Time Out São Paulo.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Sonia Rubinsky - Inspirations Orientales

    For those of you who will be in Paris later this month, check out this concert by Sonia Rubinsky at the Musée d'art et d’histoire du Judaïsme. Rubinsky's complete set of Piano Music by Villa-Lobos is, of course, indispensable.

    Villa-Lobos Artistic Excursion (Excursão Artistica Villa-Lobos), by Antônio Chechim Filho

    The Excursão Artistica Villa-Lobos, which began in 1931, was one of the most important events in Villa's life. Along with a group of musician friends the composer performed at nearly 100 concerts in small towns in the states of São Paulo, Minas and Paraná.

    Accompanying the group on this trip was Antônio Chechim Filho, a piano technician. His entertaining memoir has been translated by New Mexico-based pianist Fred Sturm. Fred has generously posted this important document (in PDF format) at the Piano Technicians Guild website.

    Fred is an accomplished pianist who knows Villa-Lobos well. His album Brazilian Soul: The Piano Music of Villa-Lobos is recommended. Fred has been busy organizing a Villa-Lobos Festival: 4 events in Albuquerque to celebrate Villa-Lobos's 125th birthday.

    Here is Fred playing Caixinha de Musica Quebrada, a great little piece that Villa-Lobos wrote during the Excursão:

    Choros no10 with OSN-UFF, Ligia Amadio

    There are a number of very high quality videos on the web of Choros no10, which is perhaps Villa's greatest work. This excerpt from the DVD Alma Brasileira features the Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional - UFF and the Coral Brasil Ensemble, conducted by Ligia Amadio. I haven't seen the DVD, but there is a CD of the concert available.

    Tom e Villa

    I love this album: "Tom e Villa". Antonio Carlos Jobim & Heitor Villa-Lobos play pool on the cover of this 1986 album by Gilson Peranzzetta (piano) and Arthur Maia (bass), sponsored by Coca-Cola in honour of the Villa-Lobos Centennial.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Yerma in Sao Paulo

    Here are some scenes from last month's production of Magdalena at the Theatro Municipal in Sao Paulo.

    Audio-visual presentation from the Museu Villa-Lobos

    Museu Villa-Lobos Curator Nara Abud Tauile put together this 2-screen audio-visual presentation that makes great use of Villa-Lobos home movies, and the Bidu Sayão version of the Bachianas Brasileiras #5 Aria.

    Feliz Aniversário Maestro!

    In 1945 Villa-Lobos wrote the Canções de Cordialidade, 5 songs of celebration based on poems by Manuel de Bandeira. One of them is Feliz Aniversário, Happy Birthday, which is played by the Orquestra da Sociedade de Concertos Sinfônicos de São João del-Rei and sung by the audience (beginning at 1:20). It's cool that everyone seems to know the words.

    Happy 125th Birthday, Villa-Lobos.

    Happy Birthday Heitor!

    This Google Doodle showed up on today, to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Villa-Lobos’s birth on March 5, 1887.

    Not an especially good likeness of the young (pre-cigar) composer. He's conducting the Uirapuru, the Amazon song-bird who is featured in Villa's early orchestral work of the same name. It is a pretty good likeness of the bird:

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Villa-Lobos/Brandão at St. Martin-in-the-Fields

    Every time I'm in London I try to get to one of the great lunchtime concerts at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which date back to WWII and Dame Myra Hess. One concert last month featured the Italian pianist Vincenzo Delli Noci playing music by Villa-Lobos, Ponce, and Piazzolla.

    Delli Noci chose really interesting Villa-Lobos works: the arrangements for piano of the 5 Preludes for Guitar by José Vieira Brandão. The Preludes are among the greatest works ever written for the guitar, and they work very well on the piano.

    Here is the 4th Prelude from that concert:

    Incidentally, for all you pianists out there, the Brandão arrangements of the Preludes are available in the compilation Heitor Villa-Lobos en dix-huit morceaux pour piano, from Di-Arezzo.