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VILLA-LOBOS: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 / Children's Carnival (Bonnie Silver/ Sonia Rubinsky/ Tatjana Rankovich) (Naxos: 8.555717)


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Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
Piano Music • 4Villa-Lobos's international reputation as one of themost influential Brazilian artists of all times wasthoroughly established in the late 1940s and continuedto strengthen throughout the 1950s until his death. Hisrole as an ambassador of Brazilian and Latin Americanculture was recognised by critics and fellow composersboth in Europe and the United States, a perception thatwas further consolidated by the array of internationalprizes, honorary titles, and tributes that began toaccumulate. Indeed no other Brazilian composer hasachieved a comparable degree of universal recognition.The works recorded in this volume again offer acomprehensive sample of the genres and styles found inVilla-Lobos's piano music, principally character pieces,single or organized into suites or collections. Theyreveal a bewildering variety of formal procedures, butpieces belonging to the same genre often share somestructural framework that influences not only the natureof the musical material but also the dimensions of thework. This volume contains three single works and fourcycles or suites.The Poema Singelo is a strikingly beautiful work,which unfortunately is not as well known as it deserves.It is cast in the form and style of a waltz, and wascomposed sometime between 1938 (the date given inthe catalogue of Villa-Lobos's works) and 1942 (thedate written on the final score). It is possible that, as hashappened with other Villa-Lobos's works, he estimatedthe date of completion while still working on the piece,or even without having begun composing it. Thestructure includes elements of rondo which aresubsumed into a larger ABACA pattern, but there isenough variation within the several sections to give it amore rhapsodic and improvisational character. Thesimple melody on which the three outer sections arebased is the primary musical element that accounts forthe title of the composition; in the C section, touches ofhumor and playfulness enliven the musical texture,while the brilliance of the piano figurations eventuallyobliterates the waltz character established at thebeginning. The B section is particularly noteworthy dueto its lavish romanticism, an outpouring of emotion thatis like a declaration of love to the composer'scompanion, Arminda, who was the dedicatee of thework. In scope and depth of expression, the PoemaSingelo is comparable to Impressoes Seresteiras fromthe Ciclo Brasileiro (Naxos 8.555286).A Fiandeira, composed in 1921, was among theworks by Villa-Lobos presented during the Week ofModern Art in 1922. The work is a tour-de-force ofpianistic writing, with the section describing thespinning-wheel based on an ingenious chromaticfiguration that is strikingly effective in its suggestivepower. From the fleeting texture created by thecontinuous motion of this figure, there emerges amelody of great lyricism and simplicity, undoubtedlymeant to correspond to the idle singing of the woman asshe operates the wheel.The Valsa Romantica (1907) belongs to the type ofsalon music that flourished in Brazil in the latenineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is anabsolutely transparent composition, both in the generaloutlines of its form and in its character. The workproceeds with unwavering metrical regularity andtransparency of texture, and the simplicity of itscompositional technique stands in sharp contrast to thevariegated sound landscapes of the other works in thisrecording.In overall character, the Simples Coletanearesembles the Suite Floral recorded in Volume 3. Bothworks are triptychs consisting of independent characterpieces, essentially unrelated to each other, and probablygrouped together for publication purposes. In thisrespect, they differ from collections such as theBachianas Brasileiras No. 4, held together by aunifying conception, either in character, extra-musicalreferences, or compositional technique. The threepieces of the Simples Coletanea (Valsa Mistica, NumBerco Encantado, and Rhodante) were composedrespectively in 1917, 1918, and 1919. They offer acomprehensive glimpse of Villa-Lobos's musicallanguage before his departure to Europe, and in all ofthem it is possible to detect elements of the Europeanavant-garde of the first decade of the twentieth century,filtered through the aesthetics of impressionism. Theacknowledged modernity of these works was furthersubstantiated by the inclusion of Valsa Mistica andRhodante among the works by Villa-Lobos performedduring the Week of Modern Art. The Valsa Mistica isbased on a fragmentary and elusive melody. Num BercoEncantado displays a rhythmic texture of greatinventiveness and complexity, based on alternatingmeters, an asymmetrical rhythmic process, althoughone section suggests the swinging of the cradle througha more regular rhythmic pattern. The prevailingrhythmic asymmetry of the piece is reinforced by thelack of a tonal centre. Rhodante unusually has a melodybuilt on a single note, as well as motives derived fromthe whole-tone scale. It was inspired by the poetry ofthe French Symbolist poet Albert Samain (1858-1900).Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 belongs to a group ofnine works for various instrumental and vocal media,written between 1930 and 1945 with the purpose ofmelding the compositional techniques of JohannSebastian Bach with elements derived from the musicaltraditions of Brazil. Together with the Choros, theBachianas Brasileiras are unquestionably the mostsignificant and better-known works by Villa-Lobos, andaltogether crucial for the establishment of hisinternational reputation, with Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5,for soprano and eight cellos, internationally the mostpopular work by any Latin American composer. Villa-Lobos's fascination with the music of Bach, whom heconsidered the source of all folk material in everyculture, dates back to his childhood. His aunt Zizinhaoften played for him The Well-Tempered Clavier, andlater in his career Villa-Lobos even transcribed some ofthe pieces for various media. One of the most pervasivetechniques employed by Villa-Lobos throughout theseries of Bachianas is based on circle-of-fifthsprogressions in which the seventh of one chord resolvesinto the third of the next chord and so on, thus creating aseries of links that hold the structure of the worktogether, a technique identified as a regularcompositional procedure not only in the works of Bachbut also those of other Baroque composers such asVivaldi and Rameau. Its role in creating harmoniccoherence parallels that of the sequence in achievingmelodic unity, another feature of Baroque music that isemployed by Villa-Lobos. Imitative procedures, also adistinctively Baroque technique, can be found in severalBrazilian genres as well, a circumstance thatundoubtedly offered Villa-Lobos greater flexibility inbringing together the two musical idioms. Othercommon features include the use of ostinato figures,pedal tones, and moto perpetuo. Bachianas BrasileirasNo. 4, composed between 1930 and 1941, includes fourpieces: Preludio (1941), Coral: Canto to Sertao (1941),Aria: Cantiga (1935), and Dansa: Miudinho (1930).The work was originally written for piano solo, but anorchestral version was prepared by Villa-Lobos himselfin 1941. The Preludio is the most abstract of the fourpieces, and its sober and meditative character recalls thesustained majesty of the Baroque sarabande. In the threesubsequent pieces, Villa-Lobos makes direct referencesto aspects of traditional Brazilian music, including thefolk melody that constitutes the basis for all thethematic material in the Aria, as it is restated in severalguises and rhythmic structures throughout the work. Inthe Coral, Villa-Lobos makes reference to themonotonous song, like a hammer striking an anvil, ofthe araponga bird found in several Brazilian forests.Villa-Lobos recalls it in the sharply delineated notesthat appear at regular intervals as the piece unfolds. Themonotony of the araponga's song is conveyed throughthe persistence of a B fl
Facts
Item number 8555717
Barcode 747313571727
Release date 23/07/2004
Category Instrumental | Classical Music
Label Naxos Classics | Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Artists Tatjana Rankovich
Sonia Rubinsky
Composers Heitor Villa-Lobos
Producers Bonnie Silver
Disc: 1
Bachianas brasileiras No. 4
1 Preludio: Introducao
2 Coral: Canto do sertao
3 Aria: Cantiga
4 Dansa: Miudinho
Poema singelo (Simple Song)
5 Poema singelo (Simple Song)
Carnaval das Criancas (Children's Carnival)
6 I. O Ginete do Pierrozinho (The Little Pierrot's P
6 I. O Ginete do Pierrozinho (The Little Pierrot's P
Francette et Pia
7 II. O Chicote do Diabinho (The Little Devil's Wrap
7 II. O Chicote do Diabinho (The Little Devil's Wrap
A Fiandeira (The Spinner)
8 III. A Manha da Pierrete (The Pierrette's Ruse)
8 III. A Manha da Pierrete (The Pierrette's Ruse)
Simples Coletanea (Simple Collection)
9 Valsa mistica (Mystic Valtz)
9 Valsa mistica (Mystic Valtz)
10 V. As Peripecias do Trapeirozinho (The Little Ragp
10 V. As Peripecias do Trapeirozinho (The Little Ragp
11 VI. As Traquinices do Mascarado Mignon (The Masked
11 VI. As Traquinices do Mascarado Mignon (The Masked
Valsa romantica
12 VII. A Gaita de um Precoce Fantasiado (The Fife of
12 VII. A Gaita de um Precoce Fantasiado (The Fife of
13 VIII. A Folia de um Bloco Infantil (The Gaiety of
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