Latin American Composers

Started by Symphonic Addict, May 25, 2024, 09:34:00 AM

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Symphonic Addict

Since there are other threads devoted to other nationalities, I wanted to create this one for Latin American Composers other than Chávez, Revueltas, Ginastera, Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos and Guarnieri to discuss their music and other stuff. Also, I was prompted to do it because of the enticing new Naxos releases on Brazilian composers. These two in question look quite intriguing:



The Fernandez (a new name to me, btw) is due to release on 7 June and the Mignone on 26 July. The latter has received previous recordings on BIS (a very good one) and other labels.

Edit: I changed the name of the thread to cover Latin America in general.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Roasted Swan


Symphonic Addict

Like you, I think Latin American composers had and have lots of interesting stuff to contribute to classical music.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on May 25, 2024, 10:47:06 AMLike you, I think Latin American composers had and have lots of interesting stuff to contribute to classical music.

I happened to listen to this disc again the other day;



Superficially it looks like a "pops" disc but actually - apart from being really well played! - its a well constructed programme with a couple of "pops" - Estancia/West Side Story Mambo etc - balanced by some really interesting and quite unusual repertoire.  Genuinely excellent and enjoyable.

Symphonic Addict

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 25, 2024, 10:52:05 AMI happened to listen to this disc again the other day;



Superficially it looks like a "pops" disc but actually - apart from being really well played! - its a well constructed programme with a couple of "pops" - Estancia/West Side Story Mambo etc - balanced by some really interesting and quite unusual repertoire.  Genuinely excellent and enjoyable.

Taking a look to the programme, I see it's certainly inventive and varied and there are some composers new to me (Carreño, Estévez, Castellanos and Romero). It seems that those didn't write much music, and recordings like that DG CD is a perfect entry point to be familiar with them.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Brian

Fernandez is most famous for a short piece, "Batuque," that was often used as an encore and national pride piece, and was recorded by Bernstein in New York. Batuque is included in that new Naxos CD in its original context as part of a suite. I'm very excited for both those new recordings.

BTW as an additional resource to this very good thread idea, there is also a thread specific to the Naxos Brazil recording series.

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on May 25, 2024, 11:09:14 AMTaking a look to the programme, I see it's certainly inventive and varied and there are some composers new to me (Carreño, Estévez, Castellanos and Romero). It seems that those didn't write much music, and recordings like that DG CD is a perfect entry point to be familiar with them.

Castellanos' Santa Cruz de Pacairigua is a simply amazing 17-minute piece - in length and structure it is roughly comparable to An American in Paris actually, with a wonderful contrast between "sacred" inspired music and folk festivals. The ending absolutely rocks!

-

Did anyone ever listen to that cycle of symphonies from Ecuador that was released a few years ago on Brilliant?

Dry Brett Kavanaugh

Danças Brasileiras. São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Roberto Minczuk. Fun, introductory recording.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n_4ZXIkiFOvpLpt9qvmy7l1-Cw4ZprNHk&playnext=1&index=1




Symphonic Addict

Thanks for the recommendations. I see the Fernandez's Batuque Brian mentioned on the disc Manabu posted. I'll investigate further.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Mirror Image

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 25, 2024, 10:52:05 AMI happened to listen to this disc again the other day;



Superficially it looks like a "pops" disc but actually - apart from being really well played! - its a well constructed programme with a couple of "pops" - Estancia/West Side Story Mambo etc - balanced by some really interesting and quite unusual repertoire.  Genuinely excellent and enjoyable.
Quote from: Symphonic Addict on May 25, 2024, 11:09:14 AMTaking a look to the programme, I see it's certainly inventive and varied and there are some composers new to me (Carreño, Estévez, Castellanos and Romero). It seems that those didn't write much music, and recordings like that DG CD is a perfect entry point to be familiar with them.

That Dudamel disc was one of my entry points into Latin American music. I knew a little bit of Villa-Lobos, Ginastera and Chávez before, but this is the recording that introduced me to Revueltas. That wonderful Sensemayá really blew my top of when I heard it.

It's a shame that Dudamel seems to kind of stopped recording (and perhaps performing, too as I don't know every single concert program he had with the LA Philharmonic) Latin American music. For example, I'd love to hear a Chávez symphony cycle from him, but it'll probably never happen.
"You cannot set art off in a corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance." ― Charles Ives

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Brian on May 25, 2024, 12:54:07 PMFernandez is most famous for a short piece, "Batuque," that was often used as an encore and national pride piece, and was recorded by Bernstein in New York. Batuque is included in that new Naxos CD in its original context as part of a suite. I'm very excited for both those new recordings.

BTW as an additional resource to this very good thread idea, there is also a thread specific to the Naxos Brazil recording series.

Castellanos' Santa Cruz de Pacairigua is a simply amazing 17-minute piece - in length and structure it is roughly comparable to An American in Paris actually, with a wonderful contrast between "sacred" inspired music and folk festivals. The ending absolutely rocks!

-

Did anyone ever listen to that cycle of symphonies from Ecuador that was released a few years ago on Brilliant?

You mean Luis Humberto Salgado 9 Symphonies on 3 discs I guess -



I'd missed that (not sure how) but the online reviews are enthusiastic and it looks right up my street  so I've just ordered it off Amazon.  I do love a good impulse purchase......

Symphonic Addict

Yesterday I was hearing Castellanos' Santa Cruz de Pacairigua following the recommendations by Roasted Swan and Brian, and I enjoyed it very much (thank you!). It succeeded my expectations, it's possibly the most accomplished work by a Venezuelan composer I've ever heard, full of vibrant Latin American rhythms, a masterful use of the orchestra and a convincing sense of narrative as well. Impressive work.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on May 26, 2024, 01:53:49 PMYesterday I was hearing Castellanos' Santa Cruz de Pacairigua following the recommendations by Roasted Swan and Brian, and I enjoyed it very much (thank you!). It succeeded my expectations, it's possibly the most accomplished work by a Venezuelan composer I've ever heard, full of vibrant Latin American rhythms, a masterful use of the orchestra and a convincing sense of narrative as well. Impressive work.

Hurray!!

Brian

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 25, 2024, 10:56:30 PMYou mean Luis Humberto Salgado 9 Symphonies on 3 discs I guess -



I'd missed that (not sure how) but the online reviews are enthusiastic and it looks right up my street  so I've just ordered it off Amazon.  I do love a good impulse purchase......
Thanks for your courageous research!

Mirror Image

#13
Speaking of Venezuelan composers, I wish there was more known about Antonio Estévez. Some of you might remember him from the works Cantata Criolla and the orchestral work Mediodía en el Llano (both works have been recorded at least twice). Anyway, he's a really fine composer (or, at least, based on those two works) and now his works are being published by Universal Edition.
"You cannot set art off in a corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance." ― Charles Ives

Brian

And speaking of wishlists and wishing for more info - I wish we had complete recordings of two ballets, Horsepower by Carlos Chavez and La Rebambaramba by Amadeo Roldan. The latter is a technicolor Cuban dance extravaganza that has had a 9-minute suite recorded by Michael Tilson Thomas; the former has had suites recorded and apparently even had a complete recording done by RCA with Eduardo Mata and the LSO - but RCA never released it. Horsepower attracted major talent: Diego Rivera did the sets and costumes, Stokowski conducted the premiere, and Copland, Gershwin, Frida Kahlo, and Rivera attended the premiere.

(Chavez does have his own thread but I like blabbing.)

Mirror Image

#15
Quote from: Brian on May 26, 2024, 07:48:53 PMAnd speaking of wishlists and wishing for more info - I wish we had complete recordings of two ballets, Horsepower by Carlos Chavez and La Rebambaramba by Amadeo Roldan. The latter is a technicolor Cuban dance extravaganza that has had a 9-minute suite recorded by Michael Tilson Thomas; the former has had suites recorded and apparently even had a complete recording done by RCA with Eduardo Mata and the LSO - but RCA never released it. Horsepower attracted major talent: Diego Rivera did the sets and costumes, Stokowski conducted the premiere, and Copland, Gershwin, Frida Kahlo, and Rivera attended the premiere.

(Chavez does have his own thread but I like blabbing.)

I don't believe a complete recording of either of those works will ever happen. It seems like Latin American composers are of little interest to record labels. I mean I know Naxos, Dorian, BIS and a few other labels have had recordings dedicated to these composers, but it doesn't seem like that interest was sustained in any way that would get works like Chávez's complete Caballos de vapor recorded. Eduardo Mata's recording not being released by RCA is a travesty, especially after they had released that 2-CD set of Revueltas so many years ago. It doesn't seem like Mata has generated enough interest for them to even bother. A case in point: the Chávez box set released by Sony could've been expanded to include recordings in the RCA catalog (since Sony owns them) and this could've been capitalized on, but it never happened.

I was lucky enough about 14-15 years ago to find that Musica Mexicana box set on Brilliant Classics, which were reissued from the ASV of the same name. That box set had some unusual repertoire that you just can't find anywhere else. So many missed opportunities and there's no telling just how much music these labels are sitting on that is just waiting to be devoured by the record-buying public.
"You cannot set art off in a corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance." ― Charles Ives

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Mirror Image on May 26, 2024, 08:10:28 PMI don't believe a complete recording of either of those works will ever happen. It seems like Latin American composers are of little interest to record labels. I mean I know Naxos, Dorian, BIS and a few other labels have had recordings dedicated to these composers, but it doesn't seem like that interest was sustained in any way that would get works like Chávez's complete Caballos de vapor recorded. Eduardo Mata's recording not being released by RCA is a travesty, especially after they had released that 2-CD set of Revueltas so many years ago. It doesn't seem like Mata has generated enough interest for them to even bother. A case in point: the Chávez box set released by Sony could've been expanded to include recordings in the RCA catalog (since Sony owns them) and this could've been capitalized on, but it never happened.

I was lucky enough about 14-15 years ago to find that Musica Mexicana box set on Brilliant Classics, which were reissued from the ASV of the same name. That box set had some unusual repertoire that you just can't find anywhere else. So many missed opportunities and there's no telling just how much music these labels are sitting on that is just waiting to be devoured by the record-buying public.

You are quite right - That Musica Mexicana box is a veritable treasure trove.  I assume it went out of print quite quickly just because of low sales.  You can still find the individual/original ASV releases if you hunt around - sometimes cheap often not.  The Naxos "Music of Brazil" series is very impressive I think - but of course in effect state sponsored hence the breadth and number of releases.  In the grander scheme what that must cost Brazil to underwrite is tiny compared to the global cultural outreach it has - even allowing for the tiny niche within a niche of CM fans who listen to Latin American music.

My personal bugbear (I think we all have a few of those!) is that institutions like the BBC Proms do not take advantage of their platform to promote this music which is appealing/attractive/accessible.  It also touches base with the "world music" remit that seems to be important to Proms Planners now.  I simply do not understand how anyone who is in that planning position cannot have heard/been impressed by this music and instantly include it in a season.

Maestro267

I have that Salgado box, and I'm still trying to get over how disappointingly dry the recordings sound. On a whim I decided to listen to the 6th Symphony yesterday, the one scored for strings and drums. Pleasant enough.

Brian

#18
Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 26, 2024, 11:24:24 PMMy personal bugbear (I think we all have a few of those!) is that institutions like the BBC Proms do not take advantage of their platform to promote this music which is appealing/attractive/accessible.  It also touches base with the "world music" remit that seems to be important to Proms Planners now.  I simply do not understand how anyone who is in that planning position cannot have heard/been impressed by this music and instantly include it in a season.
Last fall I had the opportunity to interview the Dallas Symphony's program planner/artistic director and I gently asked her why they've only programmed one Latin American work in the last two years. I said something like, do you know how many people in Texas specifically will come into the concert hall to see that music? Literally 40% of the people who live here share that heritage. She said something about trying to balance all the different things everyone wants to hear... (Oh really? In that case why do we need to do all five Beethoven piano concertos every two years?) I said something about how the Latin American repertoire is so deep and so amazing that you could easily program a different piece every single month. Unfortunately she got hung up on "oh you can't introduce quotas, quotas are bad" rather than addressing the repertoire.

We had to move on to another subject for time reasons. She told me programming choices fall in four buckets: core rep to sell tickets, obscure passion projects and revivals of old works, new commissions and premieres, and contemporary music that has already premiered. Her particular focus as a planner is to scout out contemporary composers, make the new commissions, join commissioning groups with other orchestras (we teamed up with the LPO this year), and try to convince guest conductors to agree to perform whatever new piece. Then she balances that out with all the core rep to make sure people go.

By contrast, the obscure old music revivals/passion projects are artist directed. She doesn't want to impose her personal wishlist, so the revivals happen if a solo chair wants to do a concerto - like our harp player is doing Henriette Renie's harp concerto next year - or if a conductor has a special calling card - like Jakub Hrusa doing Mystery of Time or Fabio Luisi demanding Schmidt's Book of Seven Seals.

So even though I want to blame the planner for everything, I am accidentally starting to convince myself that the problem stems from conductors, soloists, etc. simply not knowing the Latino repertoire and not being taught it in schools. If pianists start learning Guarnieri concertos, conducting competitions start including Sensemaya, etc., maybe that's when change begins.

EDIT: Sensemaya would be a fiendish piece for a conducting competition with that time signature! They should all set it!

Brian

Quote from: Mirror Image on May 26, 2024, 08:10:28 PMEduardo Mata's recording not being released by RCA is a travesty, especially after they had released that 2-CD set of Revueltas so many years ago. It doesn't seem like Mata has generated enough interest for them to even bother.

I still hold out some hope that Sony will get around to a complete Mata box some day. They're doing every other conductor ever recorded it seems like...