GISÈLE BEN-DOR , conductor

PRESS:

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Silvestre Revueltas

  • La Coronela (The Lady Colonel)

Gramophone

January, 1999

With two first recordings on this disc (only Itinerarios , under the title Caminos , has appeared previously - ASV, 8/89), the enterprising and charismatic Uruguayan conductor Gisèle Ben-Dor usefully extends the already considerable representation in the catalogue of Silvestre Revueltas, whose irregular lifestyle led to his death at the age of 40 after a mere decade of creativity as a composer. His Colorines , stridently exotic in instrumentation and rhythmically pungent, shows influences from native folk music (particularly in a less frantic section) and, conspicuously, from The Rite of Spring ; the work's weakness lies in its stylistic inconsistency, but it is brilliantly performed by the ECO and equally brilliantly recorded. More substantial and less eagerly striving for effect, but just as virtuostically scored, and often very moving (especially in the section for solo soprano saxophone), is Itinerarios , an extended threnody for the Spain which had just become engulfed in a bitter civil war.

La Coronela , a ballet first performed two years later, in 1940 (the Baker-Slonimsky dictionary here is a year out), is something of a confection. Not only did Revueltas die before completing it (it was finished by Blas Galindo and orchestrated by Candelario Huizar), but all their performance material was then lost, and the score had, as far as possible, to be reconstructed by the conductor of the premiere; but the final movement is in fact a compilation from two of Revueltas's earlier film scores. The scenario, developed from a series of skeleton figure engravings illustrated in the booklet, deals with the overthrow by the peasant class of the decadent bourgeoisie. The opposing factions are delineated, not without touches of satiric humour, in a generally less radical idiom - the "For the fallen" episode reveals an unexpectedly diatonic lyricism - though the composer makes it abundantly clear that his ardent sympathies lie with the revolutionaries. As with many ballets, however, a detailed knowledge of the scenario is neccessary to make sense of the course of the music, however vividly it is presented here.


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