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Silvestre Revueltas

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Sensemayá (for orchestra) (1938)
G Schirmer Inc
Year Composed
7 Minutes

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Programme Note
Silvestre Revueltas Sensemayá (for orchestra) (1938)
Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemayá was written in 1937 for chamber ensemble; one year later, the composer transcribed it for full orchestra. The rhythms are laid out precisely and have considerable visceral impact, very much in a manner that recalls Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. However, Revueltas' masterful orchestration, and ability to evoke the ancient Maya civilization with decidedly modern music are uniquely his own. It is a unique orchestral spectacle, something only Revueltas could have written, and in its way it is one of the most brutal works of its time.

The work begins with a low note in the bassoon as the percussion plays the sinuous, syncopated rhythm that drives the work. Soon a solo horn enters playing the first of this work's two major themes, a muscular, ominous motif. Other horns join the first one to play the theme, growing louder and more emphatic, but rigorously yoked to the underlying rhythm. Eventually the horns blast as loudly as they can, with obsessive trills on the bassoon far underneath, and the violins enter with the slashing second theme. The horns take up this new theme and bring it to a climax, after which the music returns to its opening texture. This recapitulation brings with it a mood of foreboding. The rhythm becomes even more obsessive, and finally the music reaches a massive climax during which both themes are played, overlapping, sometimes in part and sometimes in whole, by woodwinds, brass and violins in what sounds like a musical riot. The coda feels like the final dropping of a knife.

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    7 March - Blennerhasset school, Parkersburg, WV
  • 16 FEB 2018
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    17,25 February - Dell Hall at the Long Center for Performing Arts, Austin, TX
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    The Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, SD
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    Other Dates:
    14 January - The Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, SD
  • 18 NOV 2017
    Middlelton Performing Arts Center, Madison, WI
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  • 29 OCT 2017
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  • 24 SEP 2017
    Sheely Center for the Performing Arts, Northbrook, IL
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  • 15 SEP 2017
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    23 September - Finney Chapel, Oberlin College, OH
  • 20 JUL 2017
    New Hampshire Music Festival
    Silver Cultural Arts Center, Plymouth, NH
    Paul Polivnick, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 July - Silver Cultural Arts Center, Plymouth, NH
  • 20 JUL 2017
    New Hampshire Music Festival
    Silver Cultural Arts Center, Plymouth, NH
    Paul Polivnick, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 July - Silver Cultural Arts Center, Plymouth, NH
  • 07 JUL 2017
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  • 02 JUL 2017
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  • 10 JUN 2017
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    Other Dates:
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  • 13 MAR 2016
    Luzern, Switzerland
    Luzerner Sinfonieorchester
    Peter Moore; Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor

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