Search - William Alvarado, Claudio Muskus, Antonio Estevez :: Latin America Alive

Latin America Alive
William Alvarado, Claudio Muskus, Antonio Estevez
Latin America Alive
Genres: Special Interest, Classical


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Magnificent Legacy
Dean Frey | Red Deer, AB CANADA | 12/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 1954 Aaron Copland attended a major festival of Latin American music in Caracas. There he met the festival organizers Heitor Villa-Lobos and Carlos Chavez, and heard music from composers like Alberto Ginastera from Argentina, Julían Orbon from Cuba, and Antonio Estéves from Venezuela.

Two of the works that impressed Copland the most are included on this valuable new box set from Dorian: Estévez's "ingratiating" Cantata Criolla, and the "natural and spontaneous" Tres Versiones Sinfónicas by Julían Orbon. He was less impressed with the music of Villa-Lobos, which left him "...astonished, but quite confused. It is works like these that make Villa-Lobos the pride and despair of his Latin-American colleagues."

Copland characterized Villa's music as "sprawling in form and luxuriant in manner," and the three works that the late Eduardo Mata recorded are definitely in this mode. Mata and the Simón Bolivar Orchestra recorded the great early work Uirapuru in 1993, and this recording has long been a favourite of mine (though I still have a soft spot for the first recording, by Stokowski in 1955.) Mata brings out the Brazilian popular-music rhythms in his recording of the ostensibly neo-classical Bachianas Brasileiras #2, with its famous Little Train. And this version of Choros #10 is really passionate, with superb singing by the Schola Cantorum de Caracas & Orfeon Universitario Simón Bolivar.

There are so many other excellent works included here. Chavez's 2nd Symphony, the Sinfónia India, and Silvestre Revueltas's Sensemaya, are both stand-out recordings. I loved Orbon's craggy Concerto Grosso. The set is entitled "Latin America Alive", but I would only complain about the inclusion of two discs of music by the European Manuel de Falla if Eduardo Mata were still around to record new music by the many composers of Latin America that rarely make it on to disc. As it is, these six discs represent a magnificent legacy of a great, great artist who died much too soon.