Revueltas – La Noche de los Mayas (Full Orchestral Version)

by Max Derrickson

Silvestre Revueltas – 1899-1940

La Noche de los Mayas
1. Noche de los Mayas – Molto sostenuto2.
2. Noche de Jaranas – Scherzo
3. Noche de Yucatan – Andante espressivo
4. Noche de Encantamiento – Tema y variaciones

[. . .]

It was an extraordinary time in Mexico’s history in many ways, and Revueltas was an extraordinary musical voice.  He won notoriety in his lifetime, and was acclaimed by many of the great artists of the day, most notably in music were Edgar Varese and Aaron Copland.  Even so, he lived his last years in poverty and misery, surviving the deaths of two infant daughters and suffering from chronic alcoholism.

Revueltas’ was born to a family of almost excessive talent
[. . .]

La Noche de los Mayas is in full a suite from a score composed for an ambitious film project completed in 1939.  The movie was filmed on the Yucatan Peninsula with the backdrop of the impressive Mayan pyramids by several revered Mexican artists.  Unlike its predecessor, Redes (with photographer Paul Strand), La Noche fell far short of its ideal as a movie and in projecting the indigenous life of the Mayan people, and Revueltas took to salvaging the score in a deeply personal way.

Though Revueltas never created a performance suite from the film score, Mexican conductor Jose Yves Limantour produced a four movement suite(1960)of which La Noche de los Maya is also the title of its overture.

La Noche at once brings us to a land and a beautiful people of rich antiquity.  The bombastic gongs, drums and brass fanfares raise up in our minds the incomparable Mayan pyramids, sitting majestically at Chitzen Itza as a spiritual beacon across the Yucatan plains, and the extraordinary and menacing fortress at Tulum, guarding the Mayan people from Caribbeanin vaders.  The music is as innovative and original
[. . .]
What Revueltas created here has been compared to the art of the great muralists of the Mexican School– when it premiered, it was likened to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with its percussiveness, driving ostinatos, ferocity and rawness.