Last night I encountered for the first time the music of Silvestre Revueltas. I liked what I heard, and will be seeking out more of his work. (How have I come this far without knowing his music? As I’ve mentioned previously, I live under a rock.)
I say “Mexico’s Bartók” because, like Bartók, he infused his music with folkloric musical elements from his country, creating an original “Mexican” style of music. The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra treated us to two short works: a chamber version of the Orchestral work Sensamayá, and the “Duelo” movement from Homonaje a Federico Garcia Lorca.
In both works, the Stravinsky influence is more apparent to me than the folkloric influence. (I’m not that familiar with Mexican folk music.) Sensamayá is a wonderful series of polyrhythmic ostinatos underpinning layered melodic fragments. To my ear, there’s also a strong influence of Edgard Varèse in his choices of instrumental sonorities. Something about the blends of muted brass and woodwinds.
Here is some more information on Revueltas with links to some audio excerpts, including one of Sensamayá.
Also on this program was a very enjoyable piece, Altar de Neón by contemporary Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz Torres. This was one of those edge-of-your-seat pieces, also largely based on ostinatos and exciting rhythms, culminating a hair-raising percussion cadenza, making the most out of the four percussionists on the stage.