Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Villa-Lobos CD

Except for the Naxos Symphonies series, some guitar CDs and some reissues, there haven't been too many new Villa-Lobos releases this year. Here's a major release, from cellist Anne Gastinel, which includes the 1st and 5th Bachianas Brasileiras, along with arrangements for cellos of works by Piazzolla.


I'm working on a review right now. I'll post it on my new review site - Music for Several Instruments - Real Soon Now.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


One of the best things about the new Naxos series of Villa-Lobos Symphonies was the inclusion of the cantata Mandu-Çarará. This was close to the top of my wish-list for a new recording. Now that it's out there, the top spot goes to Madona, the symphonic poem written for Serge Koussevitsky in 1945. Since Madona was included in the new edition of Villa-Lobos scores from the Brazilian Academy of Music, it's only a matter of time before it shows up on disc.

In the meantime, here is a very fine live performance from July 2015, with the Orquestra Sinfônica da UFRJ is conducted by Roberto Duarte.

Thanks to пока from Brazilian Concert Music for the head's-up on this!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Presença de Villa-Lobos na Música Brasileira para Violoncelo e Piano

Cellist Hugo Pilger and pianist Lucia Barrenechea are featured in this lavish documentary directed by  Liloye Boubli. Pilger plays Villa's own cello. More information is here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A new blog

I've put together a new blog about the world of classical music outside of Villa-Lobos (no, really, there is one!) It's called Music for Several Instruments, and it starts with about 140 reviews I posted around the web in the past 5 or 6 years. Go take a look. I'll wait here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A fine new guitar CD from London

The true art of putting together a CD program is something that even some very good performers don’t always pull off. This is especially important for classical guitarists, whose selections too often lack variety of mood or rhythm. Putting a group of musical items together to build a series of emotional or technical arcs, where one piece speaks to or builds on another earlier in the program: these are things that will always enhance a well-played CG disc. The fine London-based guitarist Kazu Suwa knows that Villa’s guitar pieces are character pieces: the Preludes, the movements of the Suite Populaire Bresilienne, and even the Etudes. He’s picked three Villa-Lobos pieces with great character, and more importantly he plays each of them in a character-ful way. And he puts them in the penultimate spot, as they deserve, with just a sad, beautiful little piece by Mompou as a coda.

There are many felicities in this new CD before that wistful ending.  The Gran Vals of Tarrega with its famous embedded Nokia ring-tone (some day soon we’ll have to explain that bit of trivia to younger people who don’t remember flip-phones or Nokia) is a highlight. I loved the two small Milongas of Abel Fleury, and was impressed with the graceful swing Suwa brings to them. The great Choro da Saudade by Barrios Mangore is a more substantial piece, and Suwa plays it with seriousness and majesty, while he draws out the nostalgic sorrow underlying the music. Another standout is the 6th Fantasia of Fernando Sor, subtitled ‘Les Adieux’, and again Suwa has its measure.

The sound of the disc is excellent, and the production values are very high. There’s an excellent, insightful 11-page essay about the music written by Robert Matthew-Walker. This disc is highly recommended.

The disc is available from Kazu Suwa's website here, at Amazon.com, or at many other online stores listed on his website.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


The excellent new Naxos recording of Symphony #12 with OSESP and Isaac Karabtchevsky includes the cantata Mandu-Carará and the ballet Uirapuru, one of Villa-Lobos's finest early works for orchestra. This piece is based upon an Indian legend about a legendary bird of the rain-forest called the Uirapuru. The Uirapuru is an actual bird, which sounds like this:

Here's what Villa-Lobos makes of the song:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Villa-Lobos for two guitars, from a 1958 LP

You can listen to this 1958 LP from guitarists Graciela Pomponio and Jorge Martinez Zarate, which includes three Villa-Lobos pieces from Petizada and Cirandas, at the excellent Gallica website.

Monday, May 25, 2015

New Guitar Manuscripts CD

Naxos will release the third and final volume in Andrea Bissoli's series entitled "Villa-Lobos: The Guitar Manuscripts," in July 2015. Two premiere recordings are included, both arranged by Bissoli: a version of the early Tarantela, and 14 songs from the Guia pratico, played by Bissoli and the Ensemble Cirandinha. The main work on the CD, though, is the 1928 manuscript version of the Douze Etudes.

Finally, Naxos has included a fairly rarely-recorded orchestral work: O papagaio do moleque, a story about kite-flying which is performed by the Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra. Villa-Lobos loved flying kites as much as playing billiards and smoking big cigars. I look forward to hearing this!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Primitive Canticles

In this photo from the Library of Congress, dancer Martha Graham is shown in a pose from Two Primitive Canticles, a ballet from 1932 with music by Villa-Lobos. The ballet was divided into two sections: "Ave" and "Salve", but I don't know what the music was.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New York World's Fair Music Festival

Walter Burle Marx conducts the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra in this long program full of Brazilian goodies, part of the World's Fair Music Festival. This program is from the excellent NYPO Digital Archives.