Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The future of the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website.

This is the 19th year of the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website, which has been an information resource on the web since before blogs, Twitter, even before Google. The website is hosted by Red Deer Public Library, a great organization that I've been Director of all that time. As I look towards my retirement from the Library in July 2013, though, it's time to make a change or even retire the site.

I'm wondering if there's an organization out there that might want to host this site. It would be a shame to lose the information on more than 950 recordings, and especially the fairly comprehensive database of concerts from 1999 to the present. A new host could either post a read-only archive of the existing site, or add content moving forward. Let me know if you have any ideas!

The site has had some significant traffic: 425,000 visits and 1.2 million page views since Google Analytics was turned on in 2008. This is from 205 countries, with 23% of the traffic from Brazil, 22% from the US, and 5% from each of the UK, Canada, & Germany. The site is built in Drupal v.5.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Villa-Lobos the Modernist

Here is a compressed version of an important concert from last October, from the Maison du Brésil at Cité Universitaire in Paris. Felipe Magalhães organized and conducted the event, which focused on Villa-Lobos the modernist. The Choros series naturally were an important part of the program, with #01, 02, 05 and the rarely performed #03 and #07. It was great to see a performance of the great Quarteto simbolico (Quatuor symbolique) with the optional female choir (though a piano stood in for the celesta which adds so much to this piece's sound.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Villa-Lobos Centennial

From O Globo's Projeto Aquarius photo gallery comes this picture from the 1987 celebration of the Villa-Lobos Centennial. I'm guessing the guy on the left is from Descobrimento do Brasil, but I can't for the life of me figure out the weird figure to the left of the Amazon Indian. The photo is by Luiz Avila.

The picture caption: "1987 - O Projeto Aquarius prestou homenagem a Heitor Villa-Lobos no ano de seu centenário. No programa, 11 obras do compositor, das 'Bachianas' ao 'Trenzinho do caipira', que o público ouviu na Quinta da Boa Vista mais uma vez lotada."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Villa-Lobos: the Albuquerque Connection

"Speaking of the cello, I wish to remember here the cello art of Villa-Lobos. His performances evoked well what he must have been earlier, the young cellist Villa-Lobos.

"He still played with gallantry, with perfect intonation, and with such virtuosity. Not without effort. He arose at eight in the morning and practiced until lunch, and all the time . . . with the inseparable cigar in his mouth. What a curious temperament!"
This is pianist João de Souza Lima speaking of his old friend Villa-Lobos, in a 1967 lecture. Printed in 1969 in Presença de Villa-Lobos, we now have an English translation thanks to Fred Sturm.This entertaining memoir adds so much to one's understanding of Villa's character.

Fred has added a number of really interesting items to his website that advance Villa-Lobos scholarship. The most important is his translation of Antônio Chechim Filho's Excursão Artística Villa-Lobos, the fascinating story of Villa-Lobos's 1931 excursion to rural Brazil by the team's piano technician. Another is the section of family life from Luis Guimarães Villa-Lobos, Visto da plateia e na intimidade, by Villa's first wife. Finally, Fred has added scans of the Cirandas as they appear in the original Guia pratico, which will be of great interest to pianists.

Fred continues his valuable Villa-Lobos performances this spring, with all-Villa-Lobos concerts at UNM in March and May 2013, and a Villa-Lobos/Nazareth/Milhaud concert at the Outpost Performance Space. New Mexico has always been important to Villa-Lobos fans because of the 1971 production of Yerma by the Santa Fe Opera. Now Fred Sturm is turning Albuquerque into a prime Villa-Lobos city, with his concerts, recordings and scholarship.

Here's Sexteto mistico, from a concert Fred organized last February. The whole 125th Anniversary Concert is available on YouTube here.

Symphony no. 10 in Sao Paulo

The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP) continues their series of complete performances of Villa-Lobos's Symphonies with the presentation of no. 10 this weekend. This is a big, big work in the style of Choros no. 10. It was written in 1952 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the city of Sao Paulo.

And while OSESP and Isaac Karabtchevsky continue their recordings of the series for Naxos, the second CD (with #3 & 4) is all set to be released early next month.