Villa-Lobos, sua musica, suas ideias

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Villa-Lobos, sua música, suas idéias
Visom (Brazil) VICD 00108
 
"Villa-Lobos, sua música, suas idéias" is the title of a 45 minute CD of recordings from the sound archives of the Museu Villa-Lobos published recently on the Brazilian VISOM label (VICD 00108).  The CD combines recordings of V-L as a conductor with extracts from a few of the many interviews and talks he gave over the radio.   
We hear him as a conductor in six of the CD's 11 tracks.  For me the highlight of the disc is a fine, sharply characterised and evocative performance of Choros no. 7, with (apparently) an unidentified group of studio musicians.  The reading flows limpidly, despite the ghost of a 78 rpm side-break halfway through.  Excellent transfers with remarkably clean sound.  I wonder if this can be the same as the recording listed in the 2nd (1972) edition of the Museum's V-L catalogue, with the composer conducting the 'Orquestra Victor Brasileira' on RCA Victor 11 214.  Two other tracks are extracts from a concert in which V-L conducted the NY City Symphony Orchestra: they perform Uirapuru and the Trenzinho do Caipira from the Bachianas Brasileiras no. 2.  Both appear to have been taken from rather noisy 78s, with patches of rough sound and pitch wobble.  Even so, they capture the energy, warmth and excitement of the playing, and - like his studio recordings - they  underline the clarity of V-L's conducting and his skill in delineating phrases that are intrinsic to the logic of his musical argument.   
Three shorter tracks offer V-L rehearsing a wordless arrangement of a chorale from J S Bach's Cantata no. 148; and conducing a Hymn to the Brazilian Flag (not, I think, listed in the Museum's catalogue of works), as well as a fragmentary piece written as a greeting to the radio journalist Almirante.   
In the remaining five tracks, we hear V-L talking and being interviewed.  Four of these speech tracks are in Portuguese, and one - an interview recorded in December 1952 for Radio Canada International - is in French. The topics include the role of music in social education; folklore and the role of the field researcher; the place of music in the art of the nation; his feelings for the people of Rio de Janeiro - "gente da minha terra carioca" - and his famous comments about inspiration, recorded in New York in July 1959, a few days before his last concert. (A reporter asks how inspiration comes to him. "This business of inspiration arriving doesn't apply to me.  I was already inspired when I was born. When I write something it's either good or it's rubbish.  But this business of searching for inspiration, letting your hair grow long, drinking - all that sort of thing - doesn't exist for me. I write when I have to.")  
The Radio Canada interview offers a delicious exchange with a reporter who asks V-L whether he is attached to any particular school of composition. 
"No, the only school I can say I belong to is my own." 
"Then, we can talk about the Villa-Lobos school?"
"I can't say there's one school that's mine - every year I discover a different one."
 
The disc comes with excellent and informative notes by Maria Augusta Machado da Silva.   
I found the CD in July at the FUNARTE (Arts Foundation) shop in Rio de Janeiro (Rua da Imprensa 16, CEP 20030-120, Rio de Janeiro), where it cost R$17,00 (about US$10).  Information about its availability outside Brazil may be obtainable either from www.visom.com, or the Museum (www.museuvillalobos.org.br).  
- Harold Lewis, August 2000