Friday, December 19, 2014

Marcela Rahal sings Magnificat Aleluia

Mezzo Soprano Marcela Rahal sings the magnificent Magnificat Aleluia, which Villa-Lobos wrote in 1958 (the year before his death), with the Orquestra de Câmara da USP and Coral da ECA.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Verde Velhice

Here's something you don't come across every day: an orchestral work by Villa-Lobos that hasn't been performed since the 1920s.

Verde Velhice is short piece written in 1922, called 'Divertimento' in the unpublished score (held by the Museu Villa-Lobos). This performance at the 2014 Festival Villa-Lobos is by the Orquestra Sinfônica da UFRJ conducted by Marcelo Ramos. This music was last heard when the composer presented it in Sao Paulo in 1926.

Here is more information on the piece, from Villa-Lobos: Sua Obra, 1.0 (2009):

Muito Lento
2fl, 2ob, 2cl(Bb), cl baixo, 2fg, 4cor, 2trp, 3trb, tuba, tímp, tam-tam, hp, pf e cordas
AUTÓGRAFO (MVL): 34 x 27 - 10 p.
PUBLICAÇÕES: não publicada
COPYRIGHT: © 1922 by HVL
EXECUÇÕES: 1a 1926, São Paulo. Heitor Villa-Lobos, regente
OBSERVAÇÕES: • Com a indicação: "Divertimento"; • dedicada ao Conselheiro Antonio Prado.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5th Piano Concerto

The 5th Piano Concerto is still not programmed very often. Here's an exceptional recent performance, though, from pianist Fabio Martino and OSESP under Celso Antunes (September 2014). This may not be profound music, but it sounds completely Villa-Lobosian to me. OSESP is nailing obscure Villa-Lobos lately, with this plus their new Symphony series on Naxos. The newly edited scores are probably a factor, since so many Villa-Lobos scores have been plagued with many many inaccuracies. But I'm completely convinced by Martino, OSESP and Antunes (plus Karabtchevsky in the Symphonies); this music is in their blood.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Camerata Atlântica play Bachianas Brasileiras no. 9

Usually when string players are arranged on a stage in a semi-circle to play Villa-Lobos, it's for Bachianas Brasileiras #1 for 8 cellos, or #5 for cellos and soprano. Here are string players of the Camerata Atlântica playing the 9th Bachianas, two to a part with one double bass, and they sound great.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The latest CD in the Villa-Lobos Symphony series: no. 10

The new CD in the Naxos Villa-Lobos Symphonies series with OSESP under Isaac Karabtchevsky is finally here, and it should be a doozy.

The 10th Symphony is the biggest in the series, complete with some good bits as well as some of Villa's less fortunate tendencies. This will be a test of Karabtchevsky's vision and his control over the very good musicians of the Sao Paulo Symphony and Choir, and the two important male singers. We'll also see the results of the new edition of the work, prepared by an editorial team which includes Isaac Karabtchevsky, published by Criadores do Brasil. Maybe this clean-up of the notoriously sloppy scores will result in a tighter, more lucid whole that might bring to mind something more like Beethoven's Ninth or one of Mahler's Symphonies, and less like a pastiche from a Hollywood B-movie. Pre-order now at Amazon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Guitar concerto CD

When Villa-Lobos added a cadenza to the Fantasia Concerto he wrote for Segovia, he changed the name to Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra. The orchestral writing is 'thinly scored' to allow an un-amplified guitar to be heard, but Mme. Segovia still insisted that she couldn't hear her husband during the rehearsals for the premiere. Villa-Lobos conducted, going from p to pp to ppp, I'm sure with his mouth firmly closed all the time.

This picture, from the Museu Villa-Lobos, is included in the excellent liner notes to the equally excellent new Stein-Erik Olsen CD Havana Rio Moscow, with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Terje Mikkelsen. Incidentally, the album just showed up today at The Naxos Music Library.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

O Piano e a Criança

I came across this in Google Books: a 2011 publication by Irmãos Vitale. The pieces included, all written for children, are:
  • Brinquedo de roda
  • Petizada
  • Primeira suíte infantil
  • Segunda suíte infantil
  • Histórias da carochinha
  • Cirandinhas  
There's more information on the publisher's site.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rio Paris: Brazilian songs with a French connection

I've finally had a chance to listen to the Erato CD Rio Paris, a project by guitarist Liat Cohen, with the involvement of three special singers: Natalie Dessay, Agnes Jaoui and Helena Noguerra. Seven of the 17 tracks are by Villa-Lobos, but I also really enjoyed Cohen's choice by more recent composers, beginning with my favourite Tom Jobim song, Waters of March.

The centre-piece of the disc is the Aria of Bachianas Brasileiras #5, presented in Villa-Lobos's own arrangement for guitar and voice, and performed by Liat Cohen and Natalie Dessay. Two little-known early songs by Villa-Lobos with Cohen and Dessay are also included: Les Meres, op.45, and L'oiseau besse d'une fleche, op. 10 (most VL pieces with opus numbers are from the beginning of his career: these are from 1913 and 1914).

There are plenty of other delights included.  I especially appreciated three spare arrangements for guitar and voice by Rafi Kadishson:
  • Agua e vinho by Egberto Gismondi, sung by Helena Noguerra
  • the Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes Samba em preludio, sung by Agnes Jaoui and Helena Noguerra
  • the Jobim standard Desafinado sung by Helena Noguerra
The liner notes by Villa-Lobos scholar Rémi Jacobs show the serious side of the project, but you can tell from Liat Cohen's notes, the pictures included in the booklet, and the music itself, everyone involved seems to have had a lot of fun.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Irina Kulikova plays Guitar Music by Russian Composers 

Guitarist Irina Kulikova's excellent new CD of guitar music by Russian composers includes a piece by Konstantin Vassiliev entitled Mogiana in memoriam Heitor Villa-Lobos.  Named for the Mogiana district of Sao Paulo State, this piece is Villa-Lobosian, but it also has a strong Tom Jobim vibe. The entire disc is highly recommended, for excellent playing as well as the usual strong production and engineering provided by Bonnie and Norbert Kraft. Like so many great Naxos guitar discs, this was recorded at St. John Chrysostom Church in Newmarket Ontario.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Villa-Lobos A New Way

Villa-Lobos A New Way is a project begun by pianist, composer & arranger Alberto Conde and poet, playwright, novelist & musicologist JR Bustamante. The musicians in Conde's version of Choros #10 are:
  • Alberto Conde, piano 
  • Carmen Durán, soprano 
  • Nirankar Khalsa, percussion 
  • Kin Garcia, bass 
  • Miguel Cabana, drums

Friday, August 29, 2014

Petizada for Symphonic Band

Petizada is a piano suite written in 1912, based on traditional children's songs. It has six movements:
  • A mão direita tem uma roseira (The right hand holds a rosebush)
  • Assim ninava mamã (Mummy’s Lullaby)
  • A pobrezinha sertaneja (The Poor Girl from the Hinterlands)
  • Vestidinho branco (Little White Dress)
  • Saci
  • A História da caipirinha (The Story of the Little Peasant Girl)
Here is the suite in an adaptation for symphonic band by João Victor Bota, played by the Festival Orchestra of the Encerramento do VIII Curso de Férias, Coreto Paulista 2014.

Friday, August 1, 2014

An unpublished Villa-Lobos letter

From the Brazilian site "Glorias: Documentos Raros" comes this punning letter from Villa-Lobos to his friend and pupil "Didi", from 1956.

Is it possible?
Di, in place of Do.
Do, in place of Di.
H. Villa-Lobos

[from Google Translate:]

For those who are willing to follow difficult but glorious work like that you learn and practice at your house but again we can say, since this work is have the purest and most beautiful of all philosophies. But never be repeated too often, as I do now, citing this small piece of the Proverbs of Solomon: "Guard your heart more than all things, for it come the fruits of life."
08.01.46, Pará

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

RIP Lorin Maazel

In this video clip the late Maestro Lorin Maazel conducts the World Philharmonic Orchestra is the last part of Villa-Lobos's Choros no. 6. As far as I know this is Maazel's only recording of Villa-Lobos.

This performance is available on a CD that also includes the Firebird Suite and Berlioz's Carnaval Overture.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Guitar Concerto from Philly

Pablo Sainz Villegas plays the Villa-Lobos Guitar Concerto, with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, conducted by James Judd. This concert is from November 2013.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

OSESP a Prêmio da Música Brasileira winner

The 25th Annual Prêmio da Música Brasileira (Brazilian Music Awards) were held recently in Rio de Janeiro's Theatro Municipal. Winner of the Classical Album award was the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), for their Naxos disc of the Villa-Lobos Symphonies no. 6 & 7.  Excellent choice!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

World Cup

"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

No matter what Villa-Lobos thought about the game, I'm cheering big for A Seleçao!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New CD from Julien Labro & the Spektral Quartet

The new Azica CD From This Point Forward featuring the Spektral Quartet and accordionist Julien Labro will be released on June 24. The repertoire includes Labro's arrangement of Villa-Lobos's Sentimental Melody and Veleiros (from Forest of the Amazon), along with pieces by Piazzolla, Barrios, Pascoal, Saluzzi, Zenon, Schissi, Otero and Grenet. Labro and the Quartet were featured on the NPR station WBEZ's Morning Shift, which you can listen to here. They play Sentimental Melody at 11:35.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Momoprecoce, from the 2012 Proms

Nelson Freire plays piano, and Marin Alsop conducts OSESP, in this video from an August 2012 Proms concert. Momoprecoce is a fun pastiche that Villa-Lobos put together from his Carnaval das crianças for solo piano.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

RNZ Composer of the Week

A superb radio program from Radio New Zealand: Thomas Goss presents Villa-Lobos's music in the context of the birth of Brazilian modernism. Villa's masterpieces of the 1920s are illuminated by Mario de Andrade's amazing poetry.  This can be streamed on demand, but hurry up and listen; I'm not sure how long it will be available.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Four Bachianas Brasileiras from A Grande Música

This episode of A Grande Música from TV Brasil includes the following Villa-Lobos performances:
  • Introduction: José Schiller 
  • 3:20 Bachianas Brasileiras #6, with Marcelo Bonfim, flute and Elione Medeiros, bassoon
  • 13:00 Bachianas Brasileiras #9, with Isaac Karabtchevsky conducting the Orquestra Petrobrás Sinfônica
  • 21:45 Bachianas Brasileiras #5, with soprano Veruschka Mainhard, and Ricardo Rocha conducting an orchestra of cellos
  • 33:45 Bachianas Brasileiras #2, with cellist Antonio Meneses and Cristina Ortiz

The Villa-Lobos Experience in New York

The Association of Classical Dominican Artists in New York City will present a musical event that brings together the Dominican and Brazilian communities of New York City: "The Villa Lobos Experience", to take place on Monday May 12 at 7 PM at the Aaron Davis Hall of The City College of New York, located at 135th Street and Covent Avenue. The event is free, but reservations are required.

For more information, please see  To register for "The Villa-Lobos Experience" please proceed to our Eventbrite link: 

Arguably the best classical composer from South America, Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) wrote works that not only incorporate his native and folk Afro music, but also style elements from classicism, impressionism and the baroque. "The Villa-Lobos Experience" is a collaboration of both Dominican, Brazlian and American visual artists and classical musicians living in New York City.

Rarely heard works will performed in the program, including
  • O Canto Do Cysne Negro (poem-Dance-Mime) Extract from Symphonic Poem Naufragio de Klinikos arr. For cello and harp by Dewy Owens 
  • Lent from Fantasia arr. for Saxophone, viola, cello and harp by Pedro Vizzarro 
  • Bachianas Brasileiras No 5 
  • Choros #2 for Flute and Clarinet 
  • Assobio a Jato (The Jet Whistle) for Flute and Cello (12 Minutes) 
  • Quartour Symbolic for Harp, Celesta, flute, et Saxophone alto in Eb with female voices 
  • Sexteto Mistico for Flute, Oboe, Saxophone alto in Eb, Guitar, Celesta, and Harp 
Mission of the Association of Dominican Classical Artists: To foster appreciation for Dominican art and folkloric music in the United States; create performance space for our artist members; and, bring our music to communities with little or no access to live performances. We accomplish our mission by presenting concerts and educational programs.

General Information The Association of Dominican Classical Artists was founded in 1980 by artists and composers of Dominican descent living in New York City.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

BB no4 for harmonica, cello & piano

José Staneck plays the harmonica ("gaita" in Portuguese) in this very effective arrangement of the Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras no. 4. Ricardo Santoro plays cello, with Flávio Augusto on piano.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Remy Van Kesteren Memento

The new CD Memento by harpist Remy Van Kesteren includes arrangements of the 5 Villa-Lobos Preludes for Guitar.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Eolienne Quartet plays Quintette en forme de Choros

Last month's Total Immersion: Villa-Lobos concerts by the BBC Symphony Orchestra included performances by musicians of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Here is the Eolienne Quintet performing an excellent version of the Quintette en forme de Choros.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New guitar concerto CD

Here's the second new Guitar Concerto CD of 2014: Pablo Sainz Villegas plays guitar & James Judd conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. This concert performance is now available for streaming at The Naxos Music Library; I'm not sure when it will be available for sale.  Here is the information on the November 2013 concert, which includes music by Mendelssohn, Elgar & Dyens.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rio Paris

The new Erato CD Rio Paris, with Natalie Dessay, Agnes Jaoui, Helena Noguerra & Liat Cohen, will be released early in May 2014. You can pre-order it here. Here's a video preview; I'm looking forward to this!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Quatour Symbolique

This modernist piece from 1921, also called the Quatour Symbolique or Quarteto Simbolico, is one of my favourite chamber works. The optional female choir is rarely included in performance.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Floresta do Amazonas suite from the Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional

This December 2013 concert from the Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional includes the Florestas do Amazonas suite of Villa-Lobos.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Villa-Lobos Website moves to Indiana

Here's a nice present for Heitor Villa-Lobos's birthday: the new version of the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website is now officially up on the web, at Thanks to Erick Carballo and everyone at the Latin American Music Centre at Indiana University for all their work in making the move from Red Deer to Bloomington.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gil Jardim conducts the 1st Sinfonietta

The Sinfonietta #1, from 1916, is rarely performed, so it's nice to see this excellent video of Gil Jardim conducting the Orquestra de Câmara da USP. This is from the 4th Leo Brouwer Guitar Festival. Also on the video is Brouwer's Concierto Elegiaco, plus an Albeniz encore.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jennie Tourel's Serestas on 78

My last post was about the Columbia Masterworks LP that included 6 Villa-Lobos songs, 5 from the Serestas cycle. Here is the original 78rpm album, an important part of my Villa-Lobos music library.

The five Serestas are Modinha (#5), Abril (#9), Na Paz do Outono (#6), Cancao do Carreiro (#8) and Desejo (#10). These are important compositions, written by Villa-Lobos in Paris in 1925-26.  The sixth song, Sino de Aldeia, is the sixth song from the Miniaturas cycle of 1916-17.

Here is the back cover. Unfortunately, there's no date on this album, but I believe this was recorded (and released on 78?) in 1945. The songs made it to LP in 1950.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jennie Tourel sings Villa-Lobos

In 1950 Columbia released this Songs of Rachmaninoff LP by soprano Jennie Tourel, which included six songs accompanied by an orchestra conducted by the composer. Since this has never been released on CD, and the LP shows up on eBay only very rarely, it's nice that the Brazilian Concert Music blog has posted the songs.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Total Immersion: Villa-Lobos

Tom Service introduces Total Immersion: Villa-Lobos, presented in London in March 2014 by the BBC Symphony and Sakari Oramo. "Be prepared to be totally immersed in the sound world of Villa-Lobos."

Villa-Lobos conducts

I haven't seen this picture before. It's from the Viva Villa! exhibition at Shopping Villa-Lobos.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Clara Rodriguez at St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Later this month pianist Clara Rodriguez will be playing a couple of pieces by Villa-Lobos, Beethoven's Appassionata sonata, plus such interesting composers as Teresa Carreño, Luiza Elena Paesano, and Luis Zea, all in one of my favourite London venues: St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. Wish I could be there!

Here she is playing Impressoes Seresteiras, from an earlier London concert:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A memoir by Lucilia Guimarães Villa-Lobos

Fred Sturm has translated portions of the memoir of Villa-Lobos's first wife Lucilia Guimarães Villa-Lobos, Villa-Lobos, Visto da plateia e na intimidade (Villa-Lobos seen on stage and intimately). The work was actually written by Lucilia's younger brother Luiz, in the early 1970s, and includes family stories and some stories told by Lucilia:

"In spite of the difficulties we experienced, Villa (so we called him) began to compose his first works, with energy, and, as he did not play the piano yet, it was I who gave the first partial performances."

Besides his excellent recordings and concerts featuring the music of Villa-Lobos and other Latin American composers, the Albuquerque-based pianist Sturm is contributing valuable source material in English for Villa-Lobos scholars. There are more interesting and useful documents here:

n spite of the difficulties we experienced, Villa (so we called him) began to compose his first works, with energy, and, as he did not play the piano yet, it was I who gave the first partial performances.” - See more at:
memoir Villa-Lobos, Visto da plateia e na intimidade (Villa-Lobos seen on stage and intimately). This work, written in the early 70s, goes back to the time Lucilia met the young composer in 1912
(Villa-Lobos seen on stage and intimately)
(Villa-Lobos seen on stage and intimately)
(Villa-Lobos seen on stage and intimatel

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The 17th String Quartet, played by the Cuarteto Carlos Gomes

The 17th String Quartet, the final work in one of the most important 20th Century cycles, is one of Villa-Lobos's greatest late works. Written in 1957, it was premiered by the Budapest String Quartet in Washington DC in the year of the composer's death, 1959. This excellent version of the first movement is played by the Quarteto Carlos Gomes, which seems to be a new group. The first violinist is Claudio Cruz, famous as a violin soloist and conductor.