Heitor  Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)

Nationality: Brazilian
Born: March 5, 1887, Rio de Janeiro
Died: November 17, 1959, Rio de Janeiro (age 72)
wikipedia

Assobio a Játo (The Jet Whistle)

(for flute and cello)
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Adagio
III. Vivo
Composed: 1950 (age 62-63)
Duration: 10 minutes (approximately)
2 recordings, 4 videos
3:06
Koga, Koerner
I. Allegro non troppo
2:42
Koga, Koerner
II. Adagio
3:50
Koga, Koerner
III. Vivo
10:00
Erin, Laurie

From Kai Christiansen:

Heitor Villa-Lobos, 1887-1959

Assobio a Játo (The Jet Whistle) for flute and cello, 1950

Heitor Villa-Lobos studied music through a diversity of sources: café music in Rio de Janeiro, folk music throughout Brazil, an impressionable exposure to Debussy, Ravel and Bach, followed by a lengthy stay in Paris in the 1920’s, where he encountered the likes of Poulenc, Milhaud and Stavinsky. He returned to his native Brazil where he introduced the European repertoire and wrote volumes of strikingly original music in myriad and novel forms. Villa-Lobos became a national treasure, an international celebrity and the most highly esteemed Brazilian composer to date. His chamber output is daunting, including seventeen string quartets written over a period of forty-two years. It is fair to say that Villa-Lobos is terribly under-represented by current chamber music programming.

Written in 1950, Assobio a Játo (Jet Whistle) for flute and cello is a perfect example of Villa-Lobos’ exotic style. His choice of flute and cello offers maximum contrast between high and low, metal and wood, wind and wire, breath and bow. With high contrasts in range and timbre, the texture is so transparent that it is polarized. Throughout the piece, the flute and cello are equal partners as they symmetrically exchange lead and accompaniment, or play together with such sinuous, divergent counterpoint that they seem nearly independent, coincidentally musical. The music is chromatic and cool, swirling over a vaulting range of pitch and, across three movements, a range of nuanced moods. Within the economy of a duet, Villa-Lobos paints an astonishingly vivid canvas. The title comes from a name Villa-Lobos gave to a particular novel technique the flautist must employ in the fast glissandi of the third movement sounding to him like a jet plane.

© Kai Christiansen. Used by permission. All rights reserved.