Thursday, May 31, 2012

Luiz de Moura Castro from Radio MEC

You can listen to pianist Luiz de Moura Castro playing Brazilian music on the Radio MEC program Música e Músicos do Brasil. The podcast can be streamed here. [fixed the link!]
Sáb, 31/03 - 16h

Luiz de Moura Castro (parte 2)

Músico fez seu primeiro recital aos 9 anos
Luiz de Moura Castro
Luiz de Moura Castro
As participações em concursos e a estadia na Europa, onde completou seus estudos, estão entre os assuntos abordados na segunda parte da série dedicada a Luiz de Moura Castro.
No programa, ele interpreta:
Canto do Cisne Negro, de Villa-Lobos
Elegia, de Henrique Oswald
ambas com a participação do violoncelista Guerra Vicente
Bébé s’endort, de Henrique Oswald
Suíte Brasileira nº 1, de Lorenzo Fernandez
Do Carnaval das Crianças Brasileiras
A gaita do precoce fantasiado
A manha da Pierrete
O ginete do Pierrozinho
Das Bachianas Brasileiras nº 4 –
Com a cantora espanhola Maria José Montiel: Acalanto da Rosa, de Cláudio Santoro, e Melodia Sentimental e Nhapopê, de Villa-Lobos.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rudepoema from Concertgebouw

Radio Netherlands Worldwide recently broadcast a concert from the Concertgebouw that featured Richard Rijnvos's orchestration of Rudepoema, and you can listen (until June 4) to the concert online. Though Villa-Lobos made his own orchestration of the famously complex and difficult piano piece, Rijnvos brings out some really interesting orchestral sounds. However, as Prof. Tarasti said:
When one compares the piano version of Rudepoema to the orchestral arrangement made by the composer himself, one can only be amazed at how 'orchestral' the piano work already is.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Villa-Lobos in New Orleans

I remember the Beethoven Bicentennial of 1970 very well - each month I waited by the mailbox for the next Time-Life Bicentennial set of 5 Deutsche Gramophon LPs to arrive. But I was too young to remember the 1956 Mozart celebrations; his 200th birthday was on January 27, 1956.

Mozart isn't a composer one thinks of in connection with Villa-Lobos, who was closer musically and in temperament to Bach, Beethoven & Wagner. But Villa did write his first Sinfonietta in 1916 "À memória de Mozart". Therefore it was a great piece to start off a concert Villa-Lobos was conducting in New Orleans on January 17, 1956, with the NO Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra.

The above excerpt from the program of that concert is from Lisa M. Peppercorn's book The World of Villa-Lobos in Pictures & Documents (p. 247). I was able to piece together the rest of that concert from mentions in the Museu Villa-Lobos's Villa-Lobos: Sua Obra (2009).  After the Danses Africanes (also written in 1916) and the Intermission came an early American performance of Choros #06, and what seems to be the first complete version of Bachianas Brasileiras #5 in the U.S. (the Aria had been performed in New York in 1939). That's a pretty big deal, considering how popular the work has become in the years since.

M.J. (Mary Jane) Euphemie Blanc was, I assume, the soprano who sang BB#5, though I haven't found anything on the web about her as a singer. All I could find about M.J. is that she wrote (with her husband Louis Alfred Blanc) a book called Make Music Yours (1949), and that she and Louis Alfred endowed Loyola University with a music scholarship. Can anyone from the Crescent City tell us more?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Revisiting Mário de Andrade and Villa-Lobos

A major Villa-Lobos event takes place in Belém beginning today: "Revisitando Mário de Andrade e Villa-Lobos".  Villa-Lobos and the great modernist Andrade had a rather ambiguous relationship over the years, but in 1922, the year of the Semana de Arte Moderna, Andrade was presenting Villa-Lobos as the most important musical proponent of Modernism in Brazil (as he was). Indeed, Villa's music stood alone in the Semana.

The event celebrates the 125th anniversary of Villa-Lobos's birth, the 85th anniversary of Andrade's visit to Belém, and the 90th anniversary of the Semana de Arte Moderna. It includes concerts, films, exhibits and lectures, and runs until mid-June.

The portrait of Andrade above is by another great Brazilan modernist, Anita Malfatti, from about the time of the Semana.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

5th Festival Villa-Lobos in Caracas

Last month the 5th Festival Villa-Lobos took place in Caracas. Previous Festivals have featured some impressive concerts that are documented on YouTube, including important performances of Choros #06, Choros #09 and Momoprecoce. This year's Festival included an amazing Bachianas Brasileiras #4; Roberto Tibiriçá conducts the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Menina Das Nuvens from Belo Horizonte

The beginning of the 3rd Act of Villa-Lobos's "Fairy-Tale Opera", A Menina Das Nuvens (The Girl of the Clouds). This is from the September 2009 revival in Belo Horizonte. The Orquestra Sinfônica de Minas Gerais is conducted by Roberto Duarte. Gabriella Pace sings the title role.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hearing Madona for the first time

This picture from the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress shows conductor Serge Koussevitzky with his Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1949. In 1945 the Koussevitzky Foundation commissioned an orchestral work from Villa-Lobos, which became the symphonic poem Madona. Villa dedicated the work to Koussevitzky's wife Natalie.

Madona is a work that I had never heard until today, when I visited the excellent Brazilian Concert Music blog. An ancient (I would guess 1950s vintage) off-the-air broadcast of the work from Belgium made its way to the collection of the Brazilian composer Harry Crowl, and then on to the blog. This sounds like a shortwave broadcast; it's complete with Morse code interference.

Perhaps it came from ORU, The International Goodwill Station, and was recorded in Brazil. The romance of Shortwave Listening in the olden days! The QSL above is from the Committee to Preserve Radio Verification at the Library of American Broadcasting.

In any case, I urge you to listen to this work, written in the same year as Bachianas Brasileiras #9 and the String Trio.  I'm hoping it's not too long before we hear about new performances of Madona (or even new recordings), since it's one of the scores included in the new Villa-Lobos Digital Project of the ABM.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Concertgebouw Concert on Dutch Radio 4

One of the most important recent concerts featuring the music of Villa-Lobos took place on October 21, 2011 in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. It includes an amazing Villa-Lobos choral work that has yet to be commercially recorded: Vidapuru, the "mass-oratorio" that Villa wrote in Rio in 1919.  Also included was the rarely performed Noneto, one of Villa's modernist works, and the now fairly popular Choros #10, which many people (including myself) consider his greatest work.

The Brazilian conductor Celso Antunes conducts the Radio Kamer Filharmonie and Groot Omroepkoor. Thanks to the Dutch broadcaster Radio 4, you can listen to this concert online. My Dutch is as poor as my Portuguese, so it took me a bit of time to figure things out, but you can start at this page, and click on "Luister Terug", which will start up the program Zondagochtend Concert from October 23rd in a new window. Vidapuru begins at about 33:00.

Included in the program are two interviews by Thea Derks: a 9 minute interview of soprano Anitra Jellema and a 23 minute interview of Celso Antunes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cuarteto Latinoamericano in the jungle

This won't be to everyone's taste, I know, but I think it's great. The Cuarteto Latinoamericano play the finale of Villa-Lobos's String Quartet no5, in this excerpt from a film by Sergio Yazbek, shot on location at Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Museum Week in Rio

At the Museu Villa-Lobos during the 10th Museum Week in Rio this month, two presentations about Villa-Lobos's life and music. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Steve Howe plays Bachianas Brasileiras #5

I've always been a big fan of the progressive rock group Yes, and their guitarist Steve Howe. Howe's 2011 album Time includes this arrangement of the aria from Bachianas Brasileiras #5. And for Yes fans, after the break is one of their songs that features some mean guitar work by Howe.