Even though the programming of works on an album is often intended to highlight their similarities, it can just as often point up sharp differences between them. It's apparent that Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps and Silvestre Revueltas' La Noche de los Mayas were combined on Gustavo Dudamel's 2010 release, Rite, for their common themes of ritual and the rhythmic impulse. As the modernist masterpiece par excellence, and as a revolutionary musical exploration of prehistoric Russia, Stravinsky's Le Sacre speaks for itself, and many composers have turned to it for inspiration. Less well-known to concertgoers is the intense music of Revueltas, which was often inspired by Mexican traditions, most famously in his tone poem Sensemayá. La Noche de los Mayas is a suite derived from Revueltas' 1939 score for a film of the same name, and though it has its own distinctive folk-like character, which is unmistakably Mexican in flavor, it has been compared quite loosely to Le Sacre only because of its savage final section, "Noche de encantamiento," where the orchestra explodes in a riot of instrumental colors and dynamic percussion. Yet the lush orchestration, tuneful themes, and simpler tonal harmonic language of La Noche's early sections seem more akin to something by Manuel de Falla or Darius Milhaud, rather than Stravinsky, and they fall short of the dread and violence of Le Sacre. Dudamel's performance of Stravinsky's score with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela is riveting in its intensity, and there are several shudder-worthy moments, especially in the second half of the ballet. To follow it, the irresistible Sensemayá would have been the ideal choice, but because Dudamel already released that work on his 2008 album, Fiesta, the thrills of the final part of La noche de los Mayas will have to suffice, if only to satisfy seekers of sensational ritualistic music. But the last 10 minutes of this album pack a wallop, so comparisons between "Noche de encantamiento" and the "Danse sacrale" of Le Sacre are quite apt.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Le Sacre du printemps|
|La noche de los mayas|
4. Noche de encantamiento. Molto lento - Allegro, ma non troppo - Variation 1. Lento - Var. 2. Più mosso - Var. 3. Ancora più mosso - Var. 4. Allegro non troppo - Final. Con violencia