Music of Latin America

Author: 
Lionel Salter

Music of Latin America

  • Pampeana No. 3
  • Concerto grosso
  • Redes
  • Sensemayá

This, the start of a new series of discs (for which Eduardo Mata is Artistic Director) of Latin American music, holds great promise and is to be warmly welcomed by all who appreciate the opportunity of becoming acquainted with a vast corpus of music still largely unknown here. But Mata proceeds from the relatively familiar, with the primitively ritualistic and savage Sensemayta by Revueltas: if his reading is far more deliberate than Batiz's very fast and extrovertly exciting recording (EMI, 7/82—nla)—the old CBS Bernstein (9/64) is an also-ran—it is perhaps more blood-chilling in its effect. Redes, arranged from the music to a film The Waves, is a much more varied and subtle score: again Mata takes more time over it than Batiz did, and he is more reticent in the quietly emotional passages depicting a child's funeral and the fishermen's return with a dead companion.
Altogether new on disc—at least they have not hitherto come my way—are the other two works here. Of these, the first movement of Ginastera's 1954 Pampeana No. 3 is of riveting quality, partly employing dodecaphonic techniques lyrically (rather like Frank Martin): it is followed by a hugely energetic but tonal ''Impetuosamente'' which receives spectacular recording with a correspondingly huge dynamic range—and equally spectacular playing—and an enigmatic final movement. This is an imaginative work that deserves to be widely taken up. As a one-time pupil of Julian Orbon, Mata is well placed to give an authoritative reading of his Concerto grosso, the most substantial work on this disc. It was composed in 1958 to a commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation, and inhabits a terrain somewhere between the baroque and the full-blown romantic, tinged with Stravinsky (especially in the hieratic ecstasies of the slow movement). Impressive as the Concerto often is, it is perhaps rather over-long, and its concertino of a string quartet sometimes has to battle with the sizeable orchestra (including a piano) against which it is pitted. Warm-hearted playing, however, helps to make a convincing case for it.'

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