Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 for Choir and Guitar

Here is something special: a new arrangement for choir (SATB) and guitar by Bob Chilcott of that most arranged of pieces, the Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5, originally written for soprano and an orchestra of cellos. I love the textures.

For the next month you can listen to the BBC Singers and guitarist Sean Shibe in this concert, featured today on the programme Radio 3 Live in Concert. BB#5 begins at 43:00.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rio 450 and Villa-Lobos

On March 1st, 2015, the city of Rio de Janeiro celebrates the 450th anniversary of its founding in 1565.

One of the key celebrations will be a special series of concerts with the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira (which celebrates its own 75th anniversary in August). Roberto Minczuk will conduct all 9 Bachianas Brasileiras in two concerts, on March 7th (#1, 5 with soprano Rosana Lamosa, 8 and 4) and March 8th (#2, 3 with pianist Jean-Louis Steuerman, 6 and 9). Those concerts are also conveniently close to Villa's March 5th birthday.

Other Rio 450 concerts this year feature such composers as Tom Jobim, Marcos Portugal, Henrique Oswald and Francisco Mignone.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Marcela Rahal sings Magnificat Aleluia

Mezzo Soprano Marcela Rahal sings the magnificent Magnificat Aleluia, which Villa-Lobos wrote in 1958 (the year before his death), with the Orquestra de Câmara da USP and Coral da ECA.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Verde Velhice

Here's something you don't come across every day: an orchestral work by Villa-Lobos that hasn't been performed since the 1920s.

Verde Velhice is short piece written in 1922, called 'Divertimento' in the unpublished score (held by the Museu Villa-Lobos). This performance at the 2014 Festival Villa-Lobos is by the Orquestra Sinfônica da UFRJ conducted by Marcelo Ramos. This music was last heard when the composer presented it in Sao Paulo in 1926.

Here is more information on the piece, from Villa-Lobos: Sua Obra, 1.0 (2009):

Muito Lento
2fl, 2ob, 2cl(Bb), cl baixo, 2fg, 4cor, 2trp, 3trb, tuba, tímp, tam-tam, hp, pf e cordas
AUTÓGRAFO (MVL): 34 x 27 - 10 p.
PUBLICAÇÕES: não publicada
COPYRIGHT: © 1922 by HVL
EXECUÇÕES: 1a 1926, São Paulo. Heitor Villa-Lobos, regente
OBSERVAÇÕES: • Com a indicação: "Divertimento"; • dedicada ao Conselheiro Antonio Prado.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5th Piano Concerto

The 5th Piano Concerto is still not programmed very often. Here's an exceptional recent performance, though, from pianist Fabio Martino and OSESP under Celso Antunes (September 2014). This may not be profound music, but it sounds completely Villa-Lobosian to me. OSESP is nailing obscure Villa-Lobos lately, with this plus their new Symphony series on Naxos. The newly edited scores are probably a factor, since so many Villa-Lobos scores have been plagued with many many inaccuracies. But I'm completely convinced by Martino, OSESP and Antunes (plus Karabtchevsky in the Symphonies); this music is in their blood.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Camerata Atlântica play Bachianas Brasileiras no. 9

Usually when string players are arranged on a stage in a semi-circle to play Villa-Lobos, it's for Bachianas Brasileiras #1 for 8 cellos, or #5 for cellos and soprano. Here are string players of the Camerata Atlântica playing the 9th Bachianas, two to a part with one double bass, and they sound great.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The latest CD in the Villa-Lobos Symphony series: no. 10

The new CD in the Naxos Villa-Lobos Symphonies series with OSESP under Isaac Karabtchevsky is finally here, and it should be a doozy.

The 10th Symphony is the biggest in the series, complete with some good bits as well as some of Villa's less fortunate tendencies. This will be a test of Karabtchevsky's vision and his control over the very good musicians of the Sao Paulo Symphony and Choir, and the two important male singers. We'll also see the results of the new edition of the work, prepared by an editorial team which includes Isaac Karabtchevsky, published by Criadores do Brasil. Maybe this clean-up of the notoriously sloppy scores will result in a tighter, more lucid whole that might bring to mind something more like Beethoven's Ninth or one of Mahler's Symphonies, and less like a pastiche from a Hollywood B-movie. Pre-order now at Amazon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Guitar concerto CD

When Villa-Lobos added a cadenza to the Fantasia Concerto he wrote for Segovia, he changed the name to Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra. The orchestral writing is 'thinly scored' to allow an un-amplified guitar to be heard, but Mme. Segovia still insisted that she couldn't hear her husband during the rehearsals for the premiere. Villa-Lobos conducted, going from p to pp to ppp, I'm sure with his mouth firmly closed all the time.

This picture, from the Museu Villa-Lobos, is included in the excellent liner notes to the equally excellent new Stein-Erik Olsen CD Havana Rio Moscow, with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Terje Mikkelsen. Incidentally, the album just showed up today at The Naxos Music Library.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

O Piano e a Criança

I came across this in Google Books: a 2011 publication by Irmãos Vitale. The pieces included, all written for children, are:
  • Brinquedo de roda
  • Petizada
  • Primeira suíte infantil
  • Segunda suíte infantil
  • Histórias da carochinha
  • Cirandinhas  
There's more information on the publisher's site.

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.