Brazil Plus Bach Equals Bachianas Brasilieras by Villa-Lobos

Jan 22, 2016

I bet some of us, if we think of Brazil these days, are thinking either of escaping to the warmer weather or the coming Summer Olympics.  

But think, Brazil and Bach.  Between 1930 and 1945, Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote nine suites he collectively called Bachianas Brasilieras, marrying the spirit of Brazilian folk and popular music with the harmonic and contrapuntal complexity of the European Baroque, particularly as exemplified by Johan Sebastian Bach.

The Suite No. 4 was originally written for piano and then orchestrated in 1942.  On Fretworks this week, I'll have an arrangement for three guitars with the Pro Arte Guitar Trio.  To get us in the mood though, I'll begin the hour with David Russell's performance of Maxixe, a Brazilian dance by the Paraguayan guitarist-composer Agustin Barrios.

Irish flutist James Galway and Japanese guitarist Kazuhito Yamashita team up for the Grand Sonata for Flute and Guitar in A by Mauro Giuliani.  This is grand and tuneful music from the early 19th century by the great Italian born guitar virtuoso who entertained appreciative audiences in Paris, where he settled, and elsewhere with outstanding solo guitar, chamber works and the three guitar concertos.

Milos Karadaglic, who is from the small Balkan country of Montenegro, is an international sensation for his outstanding musicianship, and I suspect his movie-star good looks don't hurt either.  From his second CD "Pasion," I have a couple of short guitar and orchestra selections of music from Argentina: Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla and Por una cabeza by Carlos Gardel.

I'll round out the hour with some mandolin and guitar from 18th century Italy with the Sonata for Mandolin and Bass by Giuseppe Zaneboni performed by the ensemble Artimandoline.

Join me for Fretworks Saturday and Wednesday evenings at 7 on Classical 101