LATIN AMERICAN CLASSICS
Theodore Kuchar, cond; Venezuela SO
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9262 (55:43)
Toccata Bachiana y Pajarillo Aldemaroso.
The American conductor Theodore Kuchar is familiar from his Naxos recordings with the Ukraine SO: These include a complete Prokofiev series and early releases in the American series such as the Piston violin concertos, and symphonies by Antheil, Harris, and Creston (all first-rate). He has also recorded the Nielsen symphonies with the Janáček Symphony Orchestra. Now he has taken up a post in Venezuela and this 2011 recording is one of the results.
These performances are very slick. The tightness of ensemble in Moncayo’s
shows up the sloppiness of most other versions. Kuchar sets and maintains a perfect tempo here and elsewhere (as you would expect from a Prokofiev specialist). The recording quality is sharp-edged and bright, adding to the excitement. As to the program: There are several such anthologies around. Márquez’s second
has had far more outings than his other seven in the series (to my knowledge
Nos. 3 and 4 are the only others to have appeared on disc), while the Moncayo and Ginastera pieces are positively ubiquitous.
, for example, I counted nine versions of the ballet suite alone in my collection. Fernández’s short
is familiar from Bernstein’s 1963 Latin American anthology, which is brilliantly conducted and does not duplicate any of the other works on Kuchar’s disc. The rarities here are Revueltas’s joyous
(in place of the usual
) and the pieces by the Venezuelans Aldemaro Romero (1928-2007) and Yuri Hung (b. 1968). Their works are dance-based showpieces in the vibrant Latin style, but quite individual even so. Hung’s
reveals a distinctive primitive pulse with drums dominating, while Romero’s
, a clear homage to the D-Minor Toccata and Fugue (possibly by Bach) takes a while to work up to its monumental climax.
This disc is recommended, particularly at the price, but if you’re after just one selection of Latin American showpieces I would opt instead for
, a 2008 DG disc with Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Dudamel’s reading of the Marquez
is more sultry, his
more evocative in the charming second movement and more earthy overall (as befits music intended to represent Argentine cowboys). Good as Kuchar and his adult orchestra are, Dudamel’s band provides a more varied and more warmly recorded program.