Revueltas – Janitzio

by Max Derrickson

Silvestre Revueltas – 1899-1940


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Most profound was his ability to portray a tremendous array of emotions in his works through a masterfully refined sense of drama, contrast, and movement.  His best known work is Sensamaya, an orchestral tone poem about an Afro-Cuban ritual to a snake diety.

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Janitzio was first performed in 1933 and was dedicated to Carlos Chavez and Amando Echevarria.  It was revised in 1936, and this is the version most played and heard tonight.  The work shows the humor and exuberance of the composer Revueltas.  The work leaps into a waltz in which is heard some subtle dissonances, as might be heard from a provincial musical band.  The dissonances grow, and instruments begin to get off kilter; it’s a bit of a friendly musical battle between the conservatoires and the neighborhood musicians.
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From here to the end it’s a festive and rollicking musical spat, ending in a grand crescendo, and on key at last.