Friday, June 29, 2012

Cristina Ortiz plays Choros #11

Cristina Ortiz plays the piano and John Neschling conducts OSESP in Choros #11. What an amazing piece!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Villa-Lobos & Abel Carlevaro

Villa-Lobos (second from the left in the back row) stands next to the Uruguayan guitarist Abel Carlevaro, in a photo taken in Petropolis, Brazil, on December 12th, 1943. Carlevaro had premiered the Preludes for Guitar in Montevideo the previous year. Villa's wife Armindha is seated in the front row, 4th from the left.

This is from an excellent Spanish-language web-page which includes an interview with Carlevaro about his relationship with Villa-Lobos.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Suite for Voice & Violin

The Suite for Voice & Violin is one of Villa-Lobos's most important modernist works, written during his Paris stay in 1923. "That this proved a vintage year for him was attributable more to a sense of liberation than to the cultural shot-in-the-arm provided by the French capital." - Wilfred Mellers, Singing in the Wilderness, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001, p. 85.

Featured in this performance from The Playground Ensemble are soprano Megan Buness and violinist Sarah Johnson. The 2nd & 3rd movements are posted on YouTube as well.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quintette Instrumental from Brasilia

The Quintette Instrumental is one of my favourite chamber works of Villa-Lobos. It's a late work (written in 1957) for flute, harp & strings that's very reminiscent of the Ravel/Debussy inspired music of the 1920s. This version features the Dolce Duo and friends, from the Escola de Musica de Brasilia. All three movements are up on YouTube.

The popularity of the Bachianas Brasileiras

The concerts database at The Villa-Lobos Website goes back more than 10 years. I try to include every important concert I come across. Every once in a while I report on the relative popularity of certain works. Here's the latest on Villa's Bachianas Brasileiras:
No surprise that #5 comes out on top, with 342 concerts. Probably half of the performances are of the Aria alone. As well, I think more than half are either in the arrangements Villa-Lobos himself made for voice & guitar or for voice & piano, or in another of the many versions for flute or cello, guitar ensemble, or accordion.

Next, with 218 is #4, with more performances of the piano version than the orchestral one. Lately I'm seeing more orchestras (especially youth orchestras) playing only the first movement.

A significant subset of #2 concerts include only the Little Train movement - either in the original scoring or jazz or MPB versions. This shows up so often that one can think of it as a National Song.

BB#9 includes mainly the version for strings, though the choral version has become more popular in the past few years.

BB#1 is fairly common, with 79 performances. When 8 cellos are rounded up to perform #5, the first Bachianas Brasileiras is often included in the program. As well, there seem to be more cello ensembles out there, and this is one of the most important works for "an orchestra of cellos." I just wish more would play the other rare works that Villa wrote for the orchestral combination he helped to invent.

With only two performers required for #6, there are quite a few concerts out there. There aren't too many works from other composers for flute & bassoon.

BB#7 is one of my favourite works, and I'm quite surprised there are only 30 concerts in total. I'm actually surprised in the opposite way that there are as many as 24 performances of BB#3, which is a big, sprawling piano concerto. And BB#8 brings up the rear with only 16 performances; it deserves more!

Monday, June 4, 2012

43rd Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão

The 43rd Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão begins on July 1st, and this year's festival includes 10 concerts with pieces by Villa-Lobos. Included are concerts by Quarteto Radamés Gnatalli, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, the Aulus Trio, Claudio Cruz & Antonio Meneses, the Quarteto de Cordas da Cidade de São Paulo, Marcelo Bratke & Camerata Brasil, and Quarteto OSESP. Important orchestral works include Uirapuru and Bachianas Brasileiras #7.