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

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!