Saturday, September 13, 2008

Villa Lobos - The Surprise Box

This one is a complete change for this blog. I'm pretty sure I haven't posted any classical music before. So why now you ask. Well, the story is that I bought this record because of the goofy cover. I didn't really read the back liner notes and I'm not educated enough to know the composers so I must confess I didn't know it was classical music. I assumed it was going to be some kind of Latin vibe lounge music maybe with a little cheese sprinkled on top. I mean look at the cover. You can see it was a valid assumption. Well, it wasn't a loungy record. It's actually a couple pieces of classical music. I thought that perhaps it was still worth sharing because the cover is great and to be honest I actually like side one which is the entire piece of "The Surprise Box" by Villa Lobos. Side two by Falla is okay, but I can take it or leave it. I'm not classical expert. I really just kind of know the hits and I know something when I like it. I couldn't go on about composers and different genres and eras.

I don't know much about Villa-Lobos. You can get an overview of his life and work at wikipedia. It however doesn't list "The Surprise Box" as one of his works. I can tell you from reading the back of this album jacket that "The Surprise Box" was composed in 1932. It was a ballet for children according to the record. The plot as written on the jacket says,

It tells the story of Nini, a poor little girl, who never had any toys even at Christmas time. She always gazed, wide-eyed and longingly, at all the beautiful gifts that Santa Clause Brought to her rich companions.

On Christmas Eve, whikle grieving over her misfortune, Nin has a dream in which a beautiful box made of colorful crystal is brought to her. The box which seems like an enchanted showcase, slowly opens and a great cloud of smoke billows forth in the midst of which rises a stalwart Sailor swaying to and for. A beautiful Pierrette appears next, stamping her foot in vexation, followed by a little blue Domino who is teasing her by jingling his bells. Lastly a Peasant comes forth trying to comfort poor Pierrette.

Playfully, the Sailor, Domino and Peasant chase each other around until the Carnival King and Queen arrive with their followers. The happy crowd dances around Nini. A continual drumming in the distance heralds the entrance of an Adventurer of great elegance and agility.

The festivities are interrupted suddenly by the arrival of Sacy-Perere (A Brazilian urchin). This one-legged scamp spreads confusion among the crowd of dolls; however, they soon realize that this is the fairy friend of all shay and frightened children, and the dance is joyfully started again around Nini.

Another interesting thing I found on the liner notes is that they were written by a guy named Alfred Frankenstein. That's right Frankenstein. Imagine being that guy growing up in the 30's and 40's. Urgh. I hope he had some sons and that the name is being carried on.

So give this one a chance for a change of pace. It's got some Brazillian influences as well as French ballet influences.


01 The Surprise box - Villa-Lobos.m4a
02 Homage - I. Fanfare On The Name Of E. F. Arbos - Falla.m4a
03 Homage - II. To Claude Debussey - Falla.m4a
04 Homage - III. To Paul Dukas - Falla.m4a
05 Homage - IV. Pedrelliana - Falla.m4a

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