Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Fantasia for an Orchestra of Cellos

 From the Internet Archive, audio of the Fantasia for Orchestra of Violoncellos
The full title of this late piece by Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is Fantasia Concertante for Orchestra of Violoncellos. Composed in 1958, it was recorded in the same year in NYC on November 30, 1958. Villa-Lobos conducted the Violoncello Society Orchestra. I believe this may be the only recording of this work. Performance comes with a daunting problem: it requires 32 cellists. Obviously, that was not a problem for NYC. Not the best Everest recording in the sound department; it was made in their first year of operation. Transferred from the original Everest stereo LP SDBR 3024 by Bob Varney. 
This is indeed a distinguished group of cellists. Here's more information from the Violoncello Society:
The piece was written that year for the recently-formed Violoncello Society, at the request of Bernard Greenhouse. Its première at Town Hall, as well as this recording, featured the composer conducting, and Mr. Greenhouse performing the principal-solo part. They were joined by an orchestra of a number of New York’s most eminent cellists, including Luigi Silva, Harvey Shapiro, Claus Adam, Janos Scholz, Madeleine Foley, Jascha Bernstein, Marie Rosanoff, Daniel Saidenberg, Alan Shulman, Seymour Barab, and many others — all members of the Violoncello Society.... This celebrated achievement is one of the numerous landmarks in the Violoncello Society’s important ongoing mission.

The Everest LP has never been reissued on CD, but it shows up occasionally on eBay. A CD reissue would be nice, but better would be a modern recording of this fine work. A prominent cellist needs to round up 31 friends to make it happen!

Villa-Lobos - Um Clássico Popular

Villa-Lobos - Um Clássico Popular is a 2009 CD by the Quinteto Villa-Lobos. These are clever arrangements of Villa's greatest hits. The Quinteto Villa-Lobos are: Rubem Schuenck (flute), Luis Carlos Justi (oboe), Paulo Sergio Santos (clarinet), Philip Doyle (horn) and Aloysio Fagerlande (bassoon).

Photo by Silvana Marques

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Avante-garde orchestral sounds in the Nonetto

Enlever le bec et souffler dans la clarinette comme dans un cor.
Sinon chanter les notes, tres justes, dans le bec seul comme dans un mirliton.
In this section of the Nonetto (#33) Villa-Lobos instructs the clarinettist to remove the mouthpiece and blow the instrument like a horn, singing the notes "comme dans un mirliton." The Mirliton is also known as a Eunuch flute or onion flute (flûte eunuque, flûte à l'oignon), or in Germany, Zwiebelflöte. It's basically a wooden flute with a thin membrane fixed at one end, through which one blows and vocalizes at the same time. A kazoo is a kind of mirliton, though I believe Villa-Lobos was imitating an instrument used by Brazilian Indian musicians.

You can hear the effect after 9:30 in this classic performance of the Nonetto by The Roger Wagner Chorale and The Concert Arts Ensemble.

The Nonetto was begun in Rio in 1923, and completed and premiered in Paris the following year. This is the high-water mark of Villa's modernism; it's leading-edge avante-garde composition.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Camerata Atlântica Concert

From Spanish Radio RTVE, an April 11, 2016 concert by Camerata Atlântica, conducted by Ana Beatriz Manzanilla. This will be available until June 15, 2016.
Alberto Nepomuceno: SERENATA PARA CORDAS
Juan Bautista Plaza: FUGA CRIOLLA
Eurico Carrapatoso: CHORINHOS I E II
Cesar Guerra Peixe: MOURAO
There's more on the Fuga para a América Latina project here.

Composer of the Week

Composer of the Week has always been one of my favourite shows on BBC Radio 3. From June 4, 2014, here is Donald Macleod with an hour about Brazil's greatest composer.

Donald Macleod explores the cities that were important to Villa-Lobos, beginning by focusing on the impact on him of Rio de Janeiro - the place where the composer was born and died. Donald Macleod then turns to Paris, the city where Villa-Lobos developed his ideas, and which was a place he held in high affection for the rest of his life. Villa-Lobos was fascinated by the Amazon - a source of inspiration in many of his works. Donald Macleod follows the thread of fantasy that he weaved through his life. Sao Paulo was where Villa-Lobos first achieved fame - and where he later became a revered national educator. Donald Macleod looks at the Brazilian city that always celebrated his music. It was in New York that global recognition came to Villa-Lobos. Donald Macleod reflects on that city's devotion to the man and his music.

Release date: 4 June 2014 Duration: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tortorelli's Latin Latitudes

New from Brilliant Classics: Luciano Tortorelli's Latin Latitudes, with music by Spanish and Latin American composers. I really enjoyed his take on the Suite populaire bresilienne.

There's more information on this fine guitarist at his website and YouTube channel. Here are the works included on Latin Latitudes:

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Agô!: Brazilian art song CD

I'm listening to Agô!, an album of Brazilian art songs by Renato Mismetti and Maximiliano de Brito. The album is available on MP3 from Amazon.com, or in CD format at Amazon.de.

There's more information at the Pleorama website.

Villa-Lobos Symposium

In November 2012 the Escola de Comunicações e Artes da Universidade de São Paulo (ECA/USP) held a Villa-Lobos Symposium. The proceedings are available online.

At 341 pages, this is a major source for recent research. All the papers are in Portuguese, but each has an English abstract, and you can cut & paste text into a translator website (I use Google's). Here are a few papers I'm planning on reading more carefully.

Villa re-used his own music throughout his career. I'm especially interested in the Magdalena story.

This chart will be useful!

This article looks fascinating! It's not often I have a chance to connect Villa-Lobos and Canada. This is an examination of Choros no. 6 and the Introduction to Choros in the light of R. Murray Schafer's "Soundscape" idea.

I'll let you explore the rest on your own. I expect I'll be posting about some of these ideas over the next few months.