ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Silvestre Revueltas - La Coronela


SILVESTRE REVUELTAS - La Coronela (The Lady Colonel) - Gisèle Ben-Dor (Conductor) - Santa Barbara Symphony - Naxos 8.572250

This is not a new release in the true sense of the word. It was originally recorded and released on Koch International Classics back in 1998, and eventually discontinued on that label. But now that it has been newly re-issued on the Naxos label, and still remains a world premiere recording, it should receive more of the attention it deserves.

Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940) was to Mexican music what Aaron Copland is to American music. His music combines elements taken from the folklore of the land with music from the European tradition. It is often rhythmically driven and always has a strong Mexican sound. He can easily be compared to composers like Chavez, Ginastera and Villa-Lobos, although he seems slightly more revolutionary than the others and often displays a darker nature. He wrote ballets, film scores, orchestral works including the famous Sensemaya, and chamber music including four notable string quartets.

The ballet La Coronela was composed the year he died, and is based on a story involving skeleton figures and a revolution by the working class. Two subjects that are often part of legendary tales in Mexico and South America. It is a very colorful work with constantly shifting rhythms and moods, and an inventive use of many percussion instruments. At times, it resembles film score music from old black and white movies, while other movements blend battle music and waltzes with Mexican song. Gisèle Ben-Dor who was born in Uruguay is well in her element here, having conducted many fine recordings of music by Ginastera, Piazzolla and Villa-Lobos. She delivers a very persuasive and authentic account of this Mexican composer's vibrant score.

Jean-Yves Duperron