For Music of the Americas, a 2018 release on the audiophile label PentaTone, Andrés Orozco-Estrada leads the Houston Symphony in vivid performances of 20th century works from Mexico, the United States, and Argentina. Opening with Sylvestre Revueltas' explosive Sensemayá, an orchestral tour de force that depicts an Afro-Cuban ritual, the program is clearly intended as a showcase for an orchestra of virtuosos, especially showing off the precision and energy of the Houston Symphony's percussion section. Followed by Leonard Bernstein's popular Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, which offers a colorful mix of Latin rhythms and Broadway lyricism, and Astor Piazzolla's elegiac Tangazo, which blends the seduction of the tango with modernist counterpoint, the album's theme comes into clearest focus. Yet despite its jazz inflections, George Gershwin's An American in Paris seems to be included more for the composer's nationality than for any particular American feeling in the music, since it evokes a Parisian atmosphere throughout and gives a clear nod to Maurice Ravel. PentaTone's spacious sound and detailed reproduction make the album wholly enjoyable, and the impeccable recording demonstrates the label's first-rate engineering.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphonic Dances from West Side Story|