REVUELTAS: La Coronela; Itinerarios; Colorines – English Chamber Orchestra/ Santa Barbara Symphony/ Gisele Ben-Dor – Naxos 8.572250. 51:07 ***½:
Debut performance of pieces by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas are as rare as black leopards in the Yucatan. Revueltas (1899-1940) died young of alcoholism, but left behind a quirky, radically charged, nationalistic body of work that even today astounds as it entertains. I warily approached the reconstructed ballet La Coronela, which (although performed in concert), has yet to be staged or choreographed as a ballet. I believe my wariness was justified. Controversy abounds within the current version by José Limantour and Eduardo Moncada, the second of two attempts (the first having disappeared). Although filled with energetic episodes rich in stylistic variation, the final section by Limantour clearly shows the mark of bowdlerizing hands. The military strains of “Taps” without a trace of irony or mockery? The very idea.
Limantour suffers from the same syndrome of musical reconstructionists from the Mozart/Süßmeyr Requiem to the Bartok/Serly Viola Concerto: reverence. It’s particularly odd when the third section contains what has to be original Revueltas strains: a sudden waltz tempo with tasty discordant harmonies. Just how closely was Limantour listening when he penned the lack-luster conclusion? La Coronela is more of a curiosity shop for completists than a truly aesthetic musical experience. The other two pieces on the disc, however, are small masterpieces with persistent flashes of genius throughout. The moody Itinerios is intensely lyrical with subtle rhythmic style. The earlier Colorines – rarely performed for some mysterious reason – is energetic and frisky, and above all, more internally consistent than his final piece, La Coronela.
— Peter Bates