Dr. Christopher Coleman | HONG KONG | 10/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm so delighted to have been discovered the Musica Mexicana series. This is wonderful music, totally unknown to most of us, and beautifully played. Of the pieces on this disc, my favorites are the two works by Silvestre Revueltas, Redes (Nets) and Homenaje a Garcia Lorca, both works from the mid 1930's. Revueltas was a colleague of the more well-known Carlos Chavez--and dare I say it, in my opinion, a superior composer. That he died at age 41 (of alcohol related problems) and didn't leave the number of pieces Chavez did probably contributed to his lesser reputation. His music is vibrant, rhythmic, and weaves between wildly dissonant and unabashedly tonal--it's rather like Prokofiev or Shostakovich, but with Mexican folk melodies. Fantastic stuff, I can't get enough of it.
Miguel Bernal Jimenez and Blas Galindo Dimas are both represented by three movement suites; Tres Cartas de Mexico and homenaje a Cervantes, respectively. Both their works are reminiscent of Copland's 'Western' music--El Salon Mexico and Billy the Kid--but to me, superior. Dimas studied with Copland, so the resemblance is understandable.
The only piece on this disc to which I felt complete indifference was the Vals Capricho of Ricardo Castro Herrera, who hails from an earlier generation than the other composers represented here. It's a Chopin-eque piece for piano and orchestra, entirely competent but uninspired. I'm certain others will disagree with me and find it delightful, but it's not my cup of tequila.
The disc wraps up with a minor piece by Chavez, the Zarabanda for string orchestra. It's 6 minutes of lush string writing, with none of the rhythmic drive of other Chavez works like Sinfonia India; it reminds me of the string ensembles of Benjamin Britten or Raph Vaughn Williams, oddly enough.
I can't enthuse enough about most of this disc, especially the Revueltas. Anyone interested in Art music of the 20th Century, especially music of the Primitivist school, should grab this now!"