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Music of the Americas: Bernstein / Gershwin / Piazzolla / Revueltas - Orozco-Estrada

Music of the Americas: Bernstein / Gershwin / Piazzolla / Revueltas - Orozco-Estrada

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186 619

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story'
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Piazzolla: Tangazo
Revueltas: Sensemaya

Houston Symphony
Andrés Orozco-Estrada (conductor)


Having demonstrated their musical excellence with three well-received recordings on PENTATONE of orchestral works of Antonin Dvořák, Houston Symphony and Andrés Orozco-Estrada now present an album that comes closer to their cultural roots than ever before. Dance rhythms, jazzy harmonies, bright colours, city sounds; everything one associates with The Americas can be heard on this recording. With George Gershwin’s 1928 piece An American in Paris, Silvestre Revueltas’s Sensemayá (1938), Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (1961) and Ástor Piazzolla’s Tangazo (1970), it brings together composers from across the twentieth century, all connected by their belonging to the Americas. Moreover, all of these composers reconfigured the barriers between classical and popular music, combining them to produce a sound that illustrates their home region. In choosing these particular works, Houston Symphony and Andrés Orozco-Estrada have aimed not to cover the entire continent but rather to provide ‘impressions’ of America and to ‘illuminate’ as many colours in the music as possible.


Sensemayá showcases the highly original combination of native elements from the pre-colonial indigenous past with avant-garde techniques that characterizes the music of Mexican composer Revueltas. Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, from which a suite of Symphonic Dances is featured on this album, belongs to the most popular and famous American music ever. Bernstein illuminates the story of two rival gangs in New York by juxtaposing a jazz-blues ‘American’ idiom with a more ‘Latin American’ Puerto Rican sound, in which the Cuban mambo and cha-cha, and the Mexican huapango are also integrated. Ástor Piazzolla’s Tangazo (grand tango) incorporates neo-classical elements such as a fugue into the national Argentinian dance music par excellence, realizing a reconciliation between native influences and trends in contemporary classical music. In Gershwin’s jazzy symphonic poem An American in Paris, city sounds temporarily give way to a sorrowful, homesickness blues, but the piece ends in regained excitement.

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Comment by Paul Hannah - February 6, 2018 (1 of 3)

Had a listen............shame but no one can play Bernstein like Bernstein............even though this a SACD Bernstein's old recording has ten times more life and excitement

Comment by William Hecht - February 7, 2018 (2 of 3)

BIS has an all Bernstein disc coming soon conducted by Christian Lindberg with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Lindberg certainly has the necessary chops to make it an exciting release.

Comment by hiredfox - March 2, 2018 (3 of 3)

For what it is this is an excellent disc that benefits from the link up of Pentatone with Sound Mirror and the sonic results are spectacular. Definitely one for showing off your system to polite guests! It's always good to have a few lighter mood discs in one's collection.

The conductor has selected pieces that give a 'flavour' of music from the Americas but is not intended as a systematic survey. What he has chosen is bold, bright and brash and full of hope for the future. It's a point of view that should appeal to US citizens but unlikely to be shared by Venezuelans or Haitians right now. Then again it is a US based orchestra so they may be forgiven a rather blinkered view of life on these continents.

I loved it, no holds barred full frontal as maybe with horn and trombone sounds to die for.

Treat yourself and don't get hung up by worries about whether individual pieces have merit. This is music making with joie de vivre.