"Unlike many people I think, I've been a fan of Revueltas since I was quite young...I first heard Sensemaya at the age of 12 and was blown away. Unfortunately, for years most of his music was rather hard to find...darn near impossible actually. However, the composer has recently picked up a number of higher profile champions (including Esa Pekka Salonen) and a spate of rereleases during his Centennial a few years ago. Such a rediscover is long overdue!This current CD is part of the Centennial celebration of Revueltas. It consists of a compilation of orchestral recordings by Eduardo Mata, chamber recordings by David Aetherton and the Jalapa Orquestra Sinfonica under Herrara de la Fuente. The results are quite stunning, with enough material to keep you listening for quite some time!The first CD contains exclusively orchestral music under the baton of Maestro Mata. This is prime stuff indeed. The CD begins with Revueltas' most renowned piece, Sensemaya, a dense, barbaric orchestral fantasy inspired by a Cuban poem that details a traditional snake-killing ceremony in the Santeria religion. The piece is dominated by short pithy melodic statements which are gradually layered over each other to create greater and greater tension. The result is deeply compelling, Stravinsky's Rite is combined with Varese's Arcana...with native Mexican rhythms and instruments thrown in. The other works on the album are also extremely compelling. They can be broken down into abstract orchestral works, chamber pieces and music for film. In addition, Revueltas shows two definate sides, one is the convinced modernist, who shows a lot in common with Varese, and even Scriabin. The best work in this vein is the Danza geometrica (and it's chamber version Planos). The other big vein is the "nationalistic" vein, of which Revueltas was a greater exponent than his compatriot Chavez. Many works on this CD, Itinerios, Homage to Garcia Lorca, and others display a sense of wild abandon present in traditional fiestas. And yet, even here, Revueltas is a formalist and modernist, treating his material less as color and more as another structural element. The other really wonderful work on this disc is La Noche de los Mayas. Culled from a film score, this is beautifully written film music and quite ahead of it's time. It's not hard to imagine these Revueltas strains as an inspiration to Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein and the like. The work is structured as a large symphony, dominated by a broad, tonal but dissonant theme in the brass. There is a wealth of detail in this work that I come back to over and over.Much of this material has very little competition. The chamber works have been basically neglected on CD and many of the orchestral works are only available on this disc. Sensemaya has significant competition however. Salonen has done a really wonderful disc of this material, which also includes a great reading of Noche. Bernstein has perhaps the best reading of Sensemaya available on his Latin American Fiesta album (which also includes a wonderful rendition of Chavez' Sinfonia India)But Mata's reading is nearly as good as Bernstein and just as good as Salonen. Overall, for breadth and depth of music covered, this is a superlative disc and the one to get."
Wealth of Excellent Revueltas
127 | Michigan | 01/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Silvestre Revueltas is an exciting and original composer and this well-priced 2 CD set is an excellent way to enjoy his music. Having listened to numerous CDs of his works I can happily report that this CD contains as fine performances as can be found anywhere. With its wealth of material, it's one-stop-shopping for Revueltas. There is not a weak moment from any player on either CD.Sensemaya is the best known work and the Sensemaya here rates along with Bernstein as the finest I've heard (Salonen's is a little too mild, Zinman's not mean enough, and others tend to be uneven). The inclusion of the Stokowski 1949 Sensemaya is interesting historically but not musically. The Night of the Mayas here is excellent, and the 3rd and 4th movememnts shine especially well, although the biggest treat for me here was Redes, which I heard for the first time and was quickly taken by. Revueltas seemed to have a gift for film music, and also for writing music that transferred well to the concert hall.The CDs contain both chamber and symphonic works. I'm sure that Copland must have heard and been influenced by Revuletas as hints of El Salon Mexico are rampant in the smaller Revueltas works (especially 8 X Radio). Revueltas had a very clear, original voice, although at times it got a little abstract for me. Notes are thorough and very well written and include three pictures of Revueltas. The only possible way to improve this package would be to include the texts to the seven songs for soprano, but the book was already so big that perhaps this idea was rejected. If you are getting started with Revueltas, or have heard Sensemaya on another compilation CD and want to hear more, these 2 CDs belong in your library. Once you've gotten to know these, expand your knowledge with Enrique Diemiecke's Unknown Revueltas on Dorian. Revueltas has something unique and exciting to offer and this set is the best possible way to enjoy his music."
Buy this album immediately!
John | Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | 03/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have given several albums five stars before, based on the quality of the performance, recording quality and the quality of the music itself. Every once in a while an album comes along which causes me to long for a sixth or even seventh star. This is one such album. Included in this collection are 15 of Revueltas' greatest symphonic and chamber works. Why more people haven't heard of Revueltas is beyond me. It must be the startlingly small amount of recordings available, because it's definetly not his music. While he is a nationalist, he does not present an idealistic portrayal of Mexico like his slightly older contemporary Carlos Chavez (the Mexican equivalent of Aaron Copland). His is a rough, rugged and more accurate style. The recordings in this set are all excellent, even Stokowski's 1947 premier of Sensemaya. Revueltas was a versatile and original composer, capable of writing moments of extreme delicacy and beauty, and moments of frenetic madness (just listen to the last movement of La Noche de los Mayas, a dense, complex, EXTREMELY rhythmic orgy of a movement, with a whopping 14 percussionists!). All of the performances in the set are exceptional, and it is interesting to hear the premier recording of Sensemaya, which launched Revueltas into fame. Although I personally find the 1947 Stokowski recording is good only for interest's sake (he takes it very fast and I think it loses a lot as a result), I much prefer Mata's slower, yet no less dramatic take. Buy this album if you love music of the 20th century, you won't regret it."
Great introduction to a Mexican composer
James Burns | Philadelphia | 06/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd never heard of Revueltas before I stumbled on this cd at a local store. One of my best finds. Recording quality is excellent..even the 1947 premiere recording of Sensemaya by Leopold Stokowski isn't bad [the rest of the cd is from 1979 and 1980]. If you're looking for something a bit different and very dynamic, you can go wrong with this recording"
Psycho | Earth | 10/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great, great release. One of the reviews here (by "127") said that the Stokowski version of Sensemaya was interesting "historically but not musically" and I just wanted to strongly disagree with that. Leopold Stokowski has the orchestra playing in a different time-signature than the composer wrote! The piece is written mostly in 7 but this performance seems to have put the whole thing into 4 (it's probably more complicated than that but you get the idea) and the resulting performance is even more hectic and bombastic than the other recorded version of Sensemaya on the same CD. I don't know why Stokowski did this, but this performance is the most unique I've heard (of the piece.) Whether or not this is a "good" thing I don't want to get into but the recording is definitely very interesting and worth a listen."