Thursday, November 19, 2009

Villa-Lobos' Bachianas brasileiras No. 1 (1930) is scored for an "orchestra of cellos", so paying tribute to Bach’s Cello Suites while allowing Villa-Lobos to exploit the tonal and textural range of his favorite instrument. Interestingly, what is now the work's first movement was added eight years later for performance at the composer’s own Sociedade Pro Musica concerts. This Introdução (Embolada) takes a folk-song from North-Eastern Brazil as inspiration for a driving, toccata-like movement which potently combines melodic appeal, harmonic richness and contrapuntal dexterity. The Prelúdio (Modinha) that follows draws on a type of popular love-song who's gentle motion and stylized, even archaic themes evoke the slow movements of Bach concertos. The Fuga (Conversa) that concludes the work is inspired by the "question and answer" routines often improvised by Rio de Janeiro street musicians during the composer’s childhood. (Richard Whitehouse/Naxos Recordings). Check out a performance of the Prelúdio from the Bachianas brasileiras No. 1 led by cellist Mischa Maisky . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

The ensemble recherche, based in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, is one of the most distinguished ensembles for new music. With almost four hundred premieres to its credit since it was founded in 1985, the ensemble has made a substantial contribution to the development of contemporary chamber and ensemble music. Consisting of nine soloists, the ensemble has its very own dramaturgical profile and ranks highly on the international music scene. Apart from its many concert activities, ensemble recherche also takes part in musical theatre projects, does productions for radio and film, gives courses for instrumentalists and composers and lets young talents watch its rehearsals. Find out more about this amazing new music ensemble . . . this week's FEATURED ENSEMBLE.

The film Now, Voyager (1942) is the quintessential, soap-opera or chick flick (aka weepie) and one of Bette Davis' best-acted and remembered films of the 40s. Master film composer Max Steiner provides the lush, romanticized, Academy Award-winning score. The film was nominated for a total of three Academy Awards, including Best Actress (Bette Davis) and Best Supporting Actress (Gladys Cooper), with Steiner's nomination as the sole win (Steiner's second Oscar). Watch Now, Voyager's final scene . . . this week's PYTHEAS SIGHTING.

Susan Halpern writes, "Rebonds (Rebounds), composed in 1989, was Iannis Xenakis’s second work for solo percussionist. Very different from his first (Psappha, 1975), it extended the boundaries of what Xenakis defined as music. In Rebonds, a homogeneous collection of drums and woodblocks are played with a consistent pulse, and rhythmic power is the central element of this work. Contrasting timbres form the motivic material in place of themes or subjects. Watch a performance by percussionist Pedro Carneiro . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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