Monday, February 24, 2020

Gênesis - & Erosão - from Paris

Another audio recording of rare Villa-Lobos from the Internet Archive: this time it's his Symphonic Poem Gênesis, written in Paris in 1954. Claudio Santoro conducts the Orchestre National de L'Ile de France. This is from a Festival of Paris concert in August 1987.

As it happens, you can hear more Villa-Lobos from the same year, the same orchestra, and the same conductor. Santoro conducted another Villa-Lobos rarity in Paris, Erosão, on March 3, 1987. Unfortunately, Santoro died only two years later, on March 27, 1989. This is a very fine work, by the way; it was commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra in 1950.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ninth Symphony from The Philadelphia Orchestra

This is very exciting: the Internet Archive has a recording of the 1951 premiere performance of the Ninth Symphony of Heitor Villa-Lobos performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy. This is the only recording of this interesting and surprising work that I know of, other than those from the complete symphony series from Stuttgart & São Paulo. Here is what Fábio Zanon said about it, in his liner notes to the recent Naxos recording from São Paulo.
In his Ninth – just like Beethoven in his Eighth – Villa-Lobos makes use of disguise. We are presented here with agitated propulsion, the thick layer of orchestral activity that flows in a seemingly uncontrolled manner, but this is his shortest symphony, more economic in terms of ideas and, although the orchestration sounds chimerical in comparison with the likes of Haydn, pre-Beethoven symphonies are his formal inspiration.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ellen Ballon and the First Piano Concerto

This is very cool: a letter from the Canadian pianist Ellen Ballon to Heitor Villa-Lobos, setting out the arrangements for her commission for his 1st Piano Concerto, in 1945. This is from the new Museu Villa-Lobos website.

Ballon played the world premiere of the work in 1947 with the Dallas Symphony under Antal Dorati, while the Canadian premiere took place at Plateau Hall in Montréal in 1953, with the OSM under Désiré Defauw. She did indeed record the work for the first time, for London in 1949, with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Ernest Ansermet.