The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (73): My first Brazilian

Joan Baez singing the Bachianas Brasileiras was my first exposure to Heitor Villa-Lobos and the music of Brazil.

The ensemble of eight cellos is from the Utah Symphony Orchestra, conductor Maurice Abravanel.

For a more operatic rendition, here’s Bidu Sayao.

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  • Seriously? Baez barely has the breath control to manage the piece, as much a fan and friend as I am of hers. But for you to admit your late recognition of Villa Lobos boggles my mind. EMI recorded its complete collection of his works in France with him conducting in the 1950s, reissued in 1991. Oh well, confession is, as they say, good for the soul.

  • I love this music, and Joan Baez singing it, although by the time I’d heard her, I already knew Bidu Sayao’s classic with Villa-Lobos, Leonard Rose, and half the New York Phil’s cello section. There is aso Licia Albanesi with Stokowski, and a later Villa-Lobos with De los Angeles. First is best for me.

    Bidu Sayao got Villa-Lobos to re-write his original violin solo for soprano, with a B-section to Portuguese words she found. He was very reluctant but did it.

    They gathered in Columbia’s New York studio in 1945 to make the first record, which was a one-off. It sounds like an exploded guitar with Sayao’s humming, the most beautiful until Aksel Schiotz’s Bellmann song “Karaste bruder”.

    • I thought it was hilarious… especially the thought that maybe this was the first of Norman’s many Brazilians. :-O

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