Bernstein Century - Latin American Fiesta

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The Chavez Second Symphony is a luscious amalgam of pulsating rhythms bristling with exotic Central American percussion, and Bernstein's performance is electrifying. ...Of [Chavez's] six...
The Chavez Second Symphony is a luscious amalgam of pulsating rhythms bristling with exotic Central American percussion, and Bernstein's performance is electrifying.

...Of [Chavez's] six symphonies, the only one that's even remotely well-known is the Second, the Sinfonia India. Like many other folk, I came across - and was bowled over by — this in Bernstein's electrifying performance on a CBS recording of the 1960s. If your only knowledge of Chavez is this luscious amalgam of pulsating rhythms and reworked Indian melodies, succulently scored for a ripe romantic orchestra positively bristling with exotic Central American percussion, you could be forgiven for concluding that Chavez had set off hot-foot along the path of Nationalism, as Dukas had encouraged him to do....

— Paul Serotsky, MusicWeb International

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A "Latin-American Fiesta," as the label has it, indeed. With a strong Brazilian emphasis, as it happens; this element headed by Villa-Lobos with the fifth of his mixtures of Bachian and Brazilian technique, the Bachianas Brasileiras. This is the one for soprano and eight 'cellos, with the moving Cantilena by way of Aria, and Martelo by way of Danza. This seems actually the least satisfactory performance on the disc; not so much, at all, on account of the unidentified soprano, who projects the dance-music in splendid style (though the Cantilena not quite so well), as on account of the 'cellos who sound sad and muddled (though I would be most hesitant to try to distribute the blame for this last shortcoming fairly between scoring, players and recording). Camargo Guarnieri, Villa-Lobos's junior, also represents Brazil, with an entirely gay, samba-style dance movement. The Batuque, too, is gay, as exemplified in this sample from Fernandez, yet another Brazilian, and one who has the local reputation of being Brasileirissimo. If Brasileirissimo means what I think it means his music is certainly that.

Revueltas was a Mexican who died in his forties, in 1940, and who was born either (it depends where you choose to look him up) in Santiago Papasquiaro or in Durango; followers of Westerns will without doubt agree that it must have been Durango. (He took violin lessons, most improbably, there. Perhaps his teacher was one of those of whom Revueltas later wrote "...some teachers of mine from whom I fortunately did not learn much".) As it happens Revueltas was an entertaining and uninhibited writer of words ("I like all kinds of music. I can even stand some of the classics, and some of my own works...."), as well as of the lively music represented on this disc. The weightiest Mexican contribution, however, is that of Carlos Chavez, half-Mexican, half-Indian. The Sinfonia India is a substantial outpouring of convincingly Indian-sounding sounds in term of a large symphony orchestra, with plenty of auxiliary (not always in fact so very auxiliary) percussion. It is repetitive, but then so, no doubt, is the original music; and a further conviction of authenticity is given by the use of three actual Indian melodies.

Much less authentic, however, is the sound of Copland's Danzon Cubano. While this is an attractive enough piece, it is of course a pastiche, and here hardly in the right company — its North-American fingerprints do show up so much more markedly than usual. But as a United States tribute to this of all their Latin-American neighbours it may be found welcome enough.

— Gramophone [9/1964]


Product Description:


  • Release Date: September 20, 2010


  • UPC: 074646057124


  • Catalog Number: SONY60571


  • Label: Sony


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: ""


  • Composer: Aaron Copland, Camargo Mozart Guarnieri, Carlos Chavez, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez, Silvestre Revueltas


  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: New York Philharmonic


  • Performer: Carl Stern, Netania Davrath