Of the seven composers here, only Moncayo, Galindo and Marquez are listed on the Gramophone Database, and then only for a single work apiece. In Moncayo’s case that is, of course, the deservedly popular Huapango, so this recording of his splendid, vibrant Sinfonietta is especially welcome. The three movements (the fine central one seems to contain an escapee from Orbon’s Tres versiones sinfonicas) play continuously for just under nine minutes, somewhat like Carlos Chavez’s Sinfonia india.
The running order does not always favour each piece, especially those with a 19th-century ethos. The archaic-sounding Preludio sinfonico by Alfred Carrasco (1875-1945) suffers by close proximity to Huapango’s orchestral brilliance, and would have made a stronger impression following a gentler work, such as Ricardo Castro’s Minueto or Galindo’s subtle Poema de Neruda. The overture from Jose Maria Chavez’s opera La huerfanita (‘The Sicilian’, or more literally, ‘the little orphan girl’) is altogether older in provenance. Like its composer (apparently no ancestor of Carlos), who flourished in the mid-1800s during the French intervention, no dates are known for it. In the present context it seems the weakest piece of all, out of its time and not especially Mexican. After Moncayo’s works, the strongest pieces are those by Arturo Marquez (b 1950) and Samuel Zyman (b 1956). Marquez’s Danzon No 4 is no less subtle an evocation of Latin dance than the much played No 2 (3/99). Zyman’s Encuentros (1992) is expressively more wide-ranging, perhaps less cogent, but makes a highly satisfying finale.
The Orquesta de las Americas’ performances have commitment and verve, the players at home in the very different styles under Echenique’s sure direction. Only in Huapango can one make informed comparisons: overall the newcomer fares well, a little slower than Batiz’s classic ASV account (still my preferred version), though more secure than their Mexican rivals (Naxos) and not disadvantaged by the Venezualans (Dorian). Worth investigating.'