Latin America Alive = Works of ESTEVEZ, VILLA-LOBOS, REVUELTAS, ORBON, CHEVEZ, FALLA, GINASTERA – Eduardo Mata cond. – Dorian (6 CDs)

by | Jan 21, 2010 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Latin America Alive = ANTONIO ESTEVEZ: La Cantata Criolla; Mediodia en el Llano; VILLA-LOBOS: Choros No. 10; Bachiana Brasileira No. 2; Uirapuru; REVUELTAS: Redes; Sensemaya; JULIAN ORBON: Concerto Grosso for String Quartet and Orchestra; Tres Versiones Sinfonicas; GINASTERA: Pampeana No. 3; Estancia; CARLOS CHAVEZ: Sinfonia India; Horse Power Suite; FALLA: La Vida Breve (complete opera); El Amor Brujo; Siete Canciones Populares Espanolas; Homenajes; Dances from Three-Cornered Hat – Idwer Alvarez, tenor/ William Alvarado, baritone/ Marta Senn, mezzo/ Fernando de la Mora, tenor/ Cecilia Angell, mezzo/ Ignacio Clapes, tenor/ Claudio Muskus, baritone/ Enrique Iglesias, cantaor/ Elizabeth Almenar, soprano/ Pilar Rioja, bailaora/ Alberto Grau Choir/ Rafael Suarez Polyphonic Choir/Schola Cantorum de Caracas/ Orfeon Universitario Simon Bolivar/ Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela/ Eduardo Mata, conductor – Dorian DSL-90914 (6 CDs), 360:45 *****:

This fabulous set collects all of Dorian’s “Latin” recordings with the late great Eduardo Mata, longtime conductor of the Dallas Symphony among others, and a man whose reputation has led to a somewhat cult-like following ever since his tragic death in a plane crash (he was flying). I don’t know of any of his recordings that have not received rave status, and many for their time were considered audiophile classics, even the ones done on the Vox label (his collection of six Chavez symphonies is a mandatory acquisition). Dorian has other jewels in their vaults that we can only hope will soon be released in a format like this one. As for now, this is a great taste-wetter, and I will say right now, early as it is in the year, that any other collections I review in 2010 will have to be pretty damn good to surpass this absolutely indispensable set.

What is remarkable in listening to these works is the sense of continuity and progression that accompanied Latin music’s development in the 20th century. For those not knowing what to expect, or maybe even with misplaced theories as to what this music sounds like, I can only say that it is every bit as developed and far-reaching as American music at the same time, with the exception that the more populist attitudes of Copland et al in this country met with far less resistance from the avant-garde academia in Latin America and Spain. There is not one piece here, not one, that is anything less than extremely engrossing and rewarding. La Vida Breve has never received a better recording, and disc 5 (all Falla) easily rivals—though does not displace—the Reiner/Chicago “Spain” album from years ago on RCA.

I compared Sensemaya and Estancia to the recent well-received (and deservedly so) album on DGG with the Simon Bolivar and Gustavo Dudamel. Mata beats him in both pieces, and though the sound is slightly different in terms of balance, Dorian’s recording to me wins hands down. Sinfonia India is a marvelous work that gets a definitive performance here and the other not as well known composers will surprise you in the quality and beauty of their music. Indeed, there are pieces here that will become favorites quite rapidly.

Essential? Are you kidding? And to top it all off, the recorded sound is generally superb, analog-like in its smoothness but with a digital range—no compression at all. The orchestra only once seemed a little hesitant in the high held notes of the strings, and I am not even going to tell you where that is—you might not notice it. This is going for 33 bucks on Amazon and even cheaper from the independents. Get it while it lasts, you won’t be sorry.

— Steven Ritter  

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