Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
This lovely and lively disc features waltzes, mazurkas, and other salon music by the Mexican composers Ricardo Castro (1864-1907), Felipe Villanueva (1862-1893), Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), and José Rolón (1876-1945). They reveal the elegant, decidedly European tastes of the Mexican upper crust at the turn of the 20th century. No one need make any claim as to the music’s profundity to enjoy such pieces as Castro’s Vals caressante and Vals amoroso, or Villanueva’s Ebelia: Mazurka de Salón and Vals poético. The music has great charm, innate melodic appeal, and in Ponce’s case, a touch of folk influence in the form of extracts from his Canciones Mexicanas.
There’s also a wonderful surprise in the form of José Rolón’s Vals Capricho, dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein. The tune, which everyone knows, is the famous Circus Waltz, also known in English as “The Loveliest Night of the Year” as sung in the 1950 film The Great Caruso, and recorded by Mario Lanza. However, the actual melody comes from a waltz called Sobre las ondas (Over the Waves) composed in 1888 by Juventino Rosas (1868-94). Here it’s used as a subject for variations, encrusted with chromatic figurations of truly questionable taste, but highly enjoyable nevertheless (sound clip below). It’s a hoot.
Jorge Federico Osorio is lucky: he basically owns this repertoire, plays it with all the ease and graciousness it requires, and his instrument is immaculately recorded. This disc would make great background music or light listening–that’s what it was written for, after all. Why not order in some Mexican food, put this on, and enjoy a relaxing evening with your significant other?
[Editor’s Note: If you want to build your collection with specially categorized reviews featuring sound samples, like this one, consider becoming a ClassicsToday Insider–it’s only $49 per year, and you’re going to love it. Just click on the big black Insider marquee to sample and sign up.]
Buy Now from Arkiv Music
Recording Details:Album Title: SALÓN MEXICANO
Reference Recording: None
Music by Castro, Villanueva, Ponce, and Rolón