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Work

Heitor Villa-Lobos

Heitor Villa-Lobos Composer

Danças características africanas, A.85   

Performances: 3
Tracks: 9
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Musicology:
  • Danças características africanas, A.85
    Year: 1914-15
    Genre: Other Keyboard
    Pr. Instrument: Piano
    • 1.Farrapós, Op.47
    • 2.Kankukus, Op.57
    • 3.Kankikis, Op.65
The three dances comprising this collection were originally written for piano, but there are two other versions of them: Villa-Lobos fashioned a rendition for chamber ensemble and piano (1914-1916) and for full orchestra (1916). Attractive as the later pair are, it is the piano original here that seems to be the preferred version, the music is more often encountered in the concert hall and on record in that form than in the others. Like Bartók and Vaughan Williams, Villa-Lobos had an abiding interest in folk music, mainly that from his native Brazil. The three pieces are drawn on music from the Caripunas Indians of Mato Grosso, which at times displays African flavors, not least because that Southwestern Brazilian tribe's roots can be partially traced to Africa. The titles of the three pieces are as exotic-sounding as their music: Farrapós, Kankukús, and Kankikís. The first opens with a fanfare-like motif that sounds more primitive than exotic. A lively rhythmic theme is then presented whose ethnic traits are as much Latin as Brazilian-Indian. The ensuing Kankukús is relatively moderately paced in its jaunty mix of cultures, again with Villa-Lobos blending Latin elements with the rhythmic, rawer sounds of the Indians. While Kankikís has a measure of exoticism, it could almost pass for folk-inspired music from Eastern Europe. It eventually divulges more Latin and exotic elements and provides a colorful finale to this charming set of short piano pieces. Together, the three works have a duration of about 10 to 12 minutes.

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