Saturday, February 14, 2004

New VL CD release

New this month from Meridian Records in the UK:

O Violoncello do Villa
Complete works for violin, cello and piano
Vol 3

This disc features Villa's Piano Trios 2 and 3, played by Trio Villa-Lobos. The group is made up of Richard Milone, violin; Miriam Braga, piano; and Tânia Lisboa, cello. Braga and Lisboa have formerly teamed up on the Meridian release CDE 84357 O Violoncello do Villa Vol. 1, and were joined by violinist Yang Zhang in CDE 84391 O Violoncello do Villa Vol. 2.

While the piano trios are early works (the second was written in 1915 and the third in 1918), I've always enjoyed listening to them. Don't expect chamber music at the level of VL's string quartet cycle, or the chamber choros written in the 1920s. And don't expect the vitality of the great orchestral works written before the end of the teens (Amazonas or Uirapuru, both written in 1917, for example). In the piano trios Villa was relaxing and enjoying himself, perhaps since he only had the three instruments to keep track of. This is very mellow music.

Meridian is serving Villa-Lobos well. Besides the above three discs there is an excellent piano disc, DUOCD 89017, with Clélia Iruzun, containing three major works: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4, Prole Do Bebe No. 1, and Choros No. 5. As well, there's another recent new release, CDE 84454, Tangos & Choros: Flute Music from Argentina and Brazil, that features Bachianas Brasileiras #6, and #5 in an arrangement for flute and guitar.

Monday, February 9, 2004

Washington DC Screening of Villa-Lobos: Uma Vida de Paixao

The Brazilian-American Cultural Institute in Washington DC will be screening the 2000 film Villa-Lobos: Uma Vida de Paixao by Director Zelito Viana, on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 7 p.m. at BACI, 4719 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

It's nice to hear the music of Villa-Lobos (the aria from Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5) when you visit the Institute's home page. Thanks to Wayne Landsman for the tip on this. I haven't yet heard about North American or European distribution of VHS of DVD for this film, but I'm hoping the English subtitles for the Washington screening indicates that something is coming soon.

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Nashville Symphony Bachianas Brasileiras

In the spring the Nashville Symphony will begin their recording sessions of the nine Bachianas Brasileiras. This query recently arrived from Wilson Ochoa, music librarian of the Nashville Symphony:

"We are performing and recording all 9 of the "Bachianas Brasileiras" in March, and I have been busy proofreading the parts to make sure we record these with no errors.

"I have some questions about the printed music conductor scores, and was wondering if you can shed some light on some problems I have encountered.

"In "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2":

"In the third movement "Dansa": The Violin 2 is marked pizzicato at the beginning. Could this be a mistake? It is unplayable that way (too fast to be able to play it pizzicato), and should be arco to match the violas? (It is arco at rehearsal 15 when the same music returns.) The recordings I have play it arco.

"In the same movement, in the seventh measure, the Violin I is in octaves on the first beat of the measure, should they be in octaves on beat 2? Currently I have the upper part playing E, E, D (above the staff), and the lower part playing C, C, B (in the staff--and this would seem to clash with Violin 2, although Villa Lobos does do this sometimes).

"In the same movement, in the fifth measure after rehearsal 2, should Violin I be pizzicato (as at the beginning of the movement?) Also, the fifth measure of rehearsal 17, should that be pizzicato as well? In the same piece, last movement "Tocata", there is no marking as to when the Violins remove their mutes. Would that occur at rehearsal 3?

"In "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 8":

"In the second movement "Aria": after rehearsal 3, the third and the fifth measure, the strings and horns have a musical figure that sometimes has marked a glissando between beats 3 and 4. In the third measure, the strings have the glissando, and the horns do not. But in the fifth measure the horns have the glissando, but the strings do not. Then, at rehearsal 4, third measure, the strings have this and the horns do not. Should these all match? Should there be a glissando every time? Or is it correct the way it is printed? In the same movement, rehearsal 3, fourth measure, the strings have beat 3 slurred together, but the horns do not. Should these match? Is there a slur?

"Thanks for your help with this.

"Wilson Ochoa, Principal Music Librarian, Nashville Symphony" -

I'm hoping some of the readers of The Villa-Lobos Magazine might be able to help Wilson with these questions. If you're in Nashville this March, you'll be able to attend the concerts of all nine Bachianas. I'm not sure if live recordings will be made from the concerts given this March, or if the concerts will be preparations for studio recordings. In any case, you can get all the information from the Upcoming Villa-Lobos Concerts page, and at the website of the Nashville Symphony.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

Symphony no. 10 on Harmonia Mundi

I'm back after a long break. Hope you're all still out there...

The BBC's Classical Review website is featuring the new CD from Harmonia Mundi of Symphony no. 10 'Amerindia', with the Orquesta Sinfonica De Tenerife conducted by Victor Pablo Perez.

The new Harmonia Mundi Cd of Symphony 10

After only a couple of VL symphony recordings until just before the turn of the millennium, we can now choose between labels, orchestras and conductors for more than a few of the eleven symphonies. The BBC review by Andrew MacGregor notes that there are three recordings of no. 10, one of which has not been released. This would be a key disc in the soon-to-be-completed Carl St. Clair Stuttgart project of the complete symphonies. Recently Bert Berenschot let me know about the latest release in that series: Symphony no. 7 and Sinfonietta no. 1.

CPO's new CD of Symphony 7

The first recording of no. 10 was of course the Koch International Classics recording by Gisele Ben-Dor and the Santa Barbara Symphony. This disc has been a favourite of mine since it was released in 2000.

Koch's Symphony no. 10 with Gisele Ben-Dor

The BBC page has short RealAudio clips from the first and fifth movements of the Tenerife CD that give you an idea of the kind of music to expect, if not the sound quality. I'm looking forward to listening to the new disc more closely.

Here, by the way, is Bert Berenshot's posting to on the new cpo disc:

"Finally CPO released another cd in the Villa-Lobos cycle of 12 symphonies, conducted by Carl St. Clair. This time we get Symphony no.7 combined with the Sinfonietta no.1 (1916). The complexity of Symphony no. 7 dates almost audible from 1945, the same year Villa-Lobos wrote his most complex Piano Concerto (no. 1) and his most complex String Quartet (no. 9). All pieces contain more dissonant and even atonal sections he didn't write any more after 1930. Surely he did write them in the period 1917-1930 in pieces like Amazonas, Choros no. 8 and 11, the Trio and some others, but in a different way, more influenced by the 'primitivism' of those days. Symphony no. 7 is with 36 minutes longer than most of his symphonies and is a impressive piece starting with those orchestral glissandi we already know from the opening of Uirapuru and Symphony no. 11 and somewhere at the end of Genesis.

"It is combined with the early Sinfonietta no. 1 of 1916 which is much lighter and more transparant, composed for a Mozart-size orchestra and written in memoriam Mozart. It runs 23 minutes and is nice but still less typical Villa-Lobos.
So, now we still have to wait for the CPO release of no. 2 (a long piece of one hour, only recorded in the '40's by the Jansen Symphony of Los Angeles) and the choral 10th (Amerindia), already two times recorded by others the last years.

"See for information and sound samples. Until February 15th they sell it cheaper. I suppose it takes some weeks before it will be available elsewhere.

"Bert B."

Thanks for this, Bert - as usual you're on the leading edge of the Villa-Lobos recording world.