Friday, September 14, 2018

Hommage à Chopin

Here's another Villa-Lobos recording I missed this spring. Marcel Worms' disc Inspired by Chopin includes Hommage à Chopin, which Villa wrote for the 100th Anniversary of Chopin's death in 1949. I find this a very moving work. Though Villa-Lobos was hardly built in the Chopin mold, the two composers had a lot in common. In André Gide's words, "Chopin paid no attention to symmetry and pendants." Villa-Lobos's piano music has obvious connections to Chopin's works, but probably more important was Chopin's influence in the development of the Guitar Etudes and especially the Preludes, which Villa-Lobos had written earlier in the decade.

This is a very fine performance of this work.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

One-hit wonders

Don Hogan Charles for @NYTimes

Today is Robert Indiana's birthday; the great artist, who died earlier this year, was born on September 13, 1928. I tweeted this quote from former Dallas Museum of Art Director Maxwell Anderson:
He was an artist of consequence who gets mistaken for a one-hit wonder.
Indiana's "one-hit" was, of course, his LOVE sculpture, which the artist himself called "the 20th century's most plagiarized work of art." When Indiana died in May 2018 many of us took the opportunity to see what a great body of work he had produced beyond the one work we all knew.

I'm sure everyone knows where I'm going with this! I happened this morning upon this ICA Classics disc which was released in April 2018, a very fine disc with two superb live recordings never before released on CD:

Both the Schumann and Dvorak cello concertos are quite outstanding, but what really interested me was the bonus piece, a live recording of the Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5, from the Edinburgh Festival on August 23, 1962. Galina Vishnevskaya sings, and Mstislav Rostropovich leads 7 cellos from the London Symphony Orchestra, in a very special performance.

In my Villa-Lobos life, the "one-hit wonder" part is obvious; promoting the "artist of consequence" part is how I spend much of my time every day.