GMCD 7211 – Huapango
Orquestra Sinfonica de Xalapa, Orquestra Sinfonica de Minerla – Conductor
By David Hurwitz
This disc is basically a reissue…….. which, with the exception of the Halffter, first appeared on Vox Cum Laude. That vinyl disc was enormously popular and successful, particularly with classical radio stations, for reasons equally applicable now. This is terrific music, excitingly played and brilliantly recorded. Anyone who missed out on it the first time around need hesitate no longer. The music of Revueltas and Chavez, at the very least, belongs in the collection of even a casual enthusiast, and the other pieces are of uniformly high quality. This is a disc which is truly self-recommending.
By Peter Graham Woolf
One of the greatest peculiarities of Britain’s notorious musical insularity is the neglect of the central and southern American repertoire, which doesn’t take itself so seriously as the usual symphony concert fare in this country. The keynote is energy and a zest for life, and dance is never far away.
A brilliant South Bank Festival !VIVA! in 1989 gave enormous pleasure to those who attended and was a critical success, but audiences were small and it was embarrassing to be covering one unforgettable concert at which a huge orchestra and massive choir, who had flown in for this one event, far outnumbered the scattered listeners. I have indelible memories of the Cuartetto Latinamericano (have they ever come back again?) and of the conducting of Eduardo Mata, shortly before his untimely accidental death.
These live performances recorded in 1981 & 1987 ‘with no equalisation or limiting source’ make for a good whistle-stop display of what we are missing. Moncayo’s Huapango is lively and joyful music, premiered in August 1941 conducted by Carlos Chavez, whose Sinfonia India (1935) is one of Mexico’s best known orchestral works, with passages which relate to Copland’s idiom. Four movements played without pause, Sinfonia India consists of a dance in ‘scrambled rhythms’, a gentle intermezzo, a haunting slow section and a dance-rondo finale, complete with the prescribed (optional!) stunning set of exotic tribal instruments deer hooves, clay rattle, tlapanhuehuetl, teponaxtles & a string of butterfly cocoons! Galindo was inspired by Jalisco on the southern Pacific coast for his easy-going, sweet and sometimes a little sentimental Mariachi Songs. Rodolfo Halffter (1900-1987), a pupil of Falla & uncle of the avant-garde Christobal Halffter, is of a neo-classical bent, and Stravinsky comes to mind, but definitely in Mexican dress.
But the chief reason to add this to your collection may be the inclusion of two works by the short-lived Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940), far and away the most individual of these composers, one whose originality is always in evidence. Here there is the quirky, anarchic polytonal Eight times radio for an odd assortment of eight instruments and Sensemaya for a huge orchestra with lots of Latin & Indian instruments to reinforce the ‘small army of percussion’.
It is high time for another !VIVA! festival – now that South Bank Centre is no longer a forbidding palace of Classical Music, larger audiences might more easily be persuaded to join the fun.