Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ballet Folklórico de México

I first got to know this disc in 1964 when a family from Guadalajara who had just taken up residence several doors from where I was living in my southwest American town was kind enough to share it with me. In the Wikipedia article quoted below it's described as a "Living Stereo LP", but the "Living Stereo" logo appears neither on the jacket nor on the label (perhaps for licensing reasons). The sound of this LP, however, gives enough evidence of a "Living Stereo" recording. While this particular copy is a reissue from the 1970s, the jacket remains that of the original. This pressing is also a "dynaflex" LP  and this RCA trademark also does not appear.*

From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet_Folkl%C3%B3rico_de_M%C3%A9xico):

"Ballet Folklórico de México is a folkloric ballet ensemble in Mexico City. For five decades it has presented dances in costumes that reflect the traditional culture of Mexico. The ensemble has appeared under the name, Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández.

The ballet works and musical pieces reflect various regions and folk music genres of Mexico. Many of the ensemble's works reflect the traditions of indigenous Mesoamerican culture. Numbers of performers in individual dance numbers range from two to over thirty-five. From the group's founding by Amalia Hernández in 1952, the group grew from eight performers to a fifty piece ensemble by the end of the decade. In 1959 the group officially represented Mexico at the Pan American Games in Chicago. Under Hernández the group was a pioneer of Baile Folklórico in Mexico....

The ensemble performs three times weekly at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Additionally, it has toured widely in the US and has appeared in over 80 other countries.

There are three types of Ballet Folklorico. Danza, Mestizo, and Bailes Rejionales.

In 1963 [the Ballet Folklórico de México] issued a "Living Stereo" LP, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, on RCA Records of Mexico, RCA Victor MKS-1530. (Supervisory personnel at time of release of RCA record: Amalia Sarabia, general director and choreography, Ramon Noble, musical coordination, Celestino Gogorostiza, general supervision.)"

Ballet Folklórico de México

Side 1:

1. Los Dioses
 2. Michoacan
3. Revolución
4. La Huasteca
5. Los Tarascos

Side 2:

6. Fiesta en Veracruz
7. Danza de los Quetzales
8. Boda en Tehuantepec
9. Los Sonajeros de Tuxpan
10. Zafra en Tamaulipas
11. La Danza del Venado
12. Jalisco

Amalia Sarabia, general director and choreography
Ramon Noble, musical coordination
Celestino Gogorostiza, general supervision  

(LP transfer; RCA, 1963)


*One reads on the back of US issues of "dynaflex" LP's from the early 1970's: 

"dynaflex is the RCA trademark for a new development [sic] in record manufacturing that provides a smoother, quieter surface and improved ability to reproduce musical sound. This lightweight record also virtually eliminates warpage and turntable slippage." 

Of course, none of this was ever true. It was not a "development", but an early "shock doctrine" attempt to offset an increase in oil prices during the so-called "petroleum crisis" of the early 1970's (petroleum being used in vinyl production) by marketing a cheapened, inferior product as an "innovation" (in short, the correct term is "fraud"). "Dynaflex" discs are exceedingly thin and flimsy, i.e., less the thickness of standard LP's thus costing less to manufacture because less vinyl is needed. The ironic twist was that dynaflex LP's were marketed as "virtually eliminating warpage" when exactly the opposite was the case.

A number of US "dynaflex" pressings in my possession are so badly warped (from when I bought them new, c. 1971), that they need to be fixed by an adhesive to the turntable in order to avoid that they slip; and they must must be carefully played in order to prevent sound distortion resulting from the general level of warpage. When these LP's revolve on the turntable, they remind one of large waves on the ocean, viewed from the horizon. "Dynaflex", then, was a small, comparatively "insignificant" foretaste of the "normal" world we now live in...

(Fortunately, the Ballet Folklórico de México LP is not warped.)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Erik Satie
Trois Morceaux en form de poire
(Three Pieces in the shape of a pear)

Erik Satie 


1. Manière de Commencement
2. Prolongation du Même - Pièces 1, 2, 3
3. En Plus
4. Redite

Robert and Gaby Casadesus, Duo-Pianists

(LP transfer; Columbia, early 1950's; recorded 1946)

Aaron Copland 
El Salón México (1936)

Boston Symphony Orchestra / Serge Koussevitzky

(78 rpm transfer; Victor, recorded Dec. 1, 1938)

During his 1983 European lectures, composer Morton Feldman recalled composer Aaron Copland's lectures in Buffalo, N.Y.

"I remember we once had Aaron Copland talk, and all the students were surprised at his radical mind. They couldn't put it together with what they thought his music was. You see?..."

"...And a lot of people are very upset because of my avant-garde position and I keep reminding them that as far as I'm concerned, the university is like a museum. This is not a private art gallery. And I keep trying my university with all kinds of people coming. Conservative. The conservatives when they make a talk usually sound radical. And when the radicals make a talk, they usually sound conservative [laughter] We had John Cage and Aaron Copland come. [laughs] Aaron sounded like some kind of terrorist. And John Cage was more or less modifying his position. [laughter]..."

from: Morton Feldman Says - Selected Interviews and Lectures, 1964-1987; ed. Chris Villars; Hyphen Press: London, 2006; pp.168 & 192.

Feldman (third from left) listening to Copland lecture, Buffalo, 1977.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Program of Mexican Music 
Sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art

Music of Mexico
The Symphony Orchestra of Mexico
 Coro del Conservatorio
conducted by Carlos Chávez

1. Sones Mariachi - Jalisco 
    arranged by Blas Galindo for Orchestra 

2. La Paloma Azul (traditional)
    arranged by Carlos Chávez for Orchestra and Chorus

3. Carlos Chávez: Xochipili-Macuilxochitl
    Music for Pre-Conquest Instruments

4. Carlos Chávez: Danza a Centeotl from "Los Cuatro Soles"
    for Chorus and Orchestra

5. Yaqui Music - Sonora (traditional)
    arranged by Luis Sandi for Orchestra

6. Huapango - Vera Cruz
    arranged by Gerónimo Baqueiro Fóster

Carlos Chávez conducting an orchestra of American and Mexican musicians and the chorus of the National Music League.

(78 rpm transfer; Columbia, 1941)

Carlos Chávez in rehearsal at MOMA (1940)


From: Herbert Barrett 
Columbus 5-4640
Re: Mexican Music Program


The program of Mexican music, arranged by Carlos Chavez,
Mexico's foremost composer and conductor, will be inaugurated Thursday
evening, May 16, in the auditorium of the Museum of Modern Art. For
the first time the Museum directly sponsors a musical program, which,
in combination with the exhibition of Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art,
presents a comprehensive view of Mexico's great cultural tradition.
The program is divided into nine major groups, each representing
an important period in Mexican history, and ranges from a
special arrangement of music for Aztec instruments of the 16th century
to the popular Huapangos, the gay love songs of the Mariachi, the
popular Corridos Mexicanos and the traditional Yaqui music. Listed
for first performance is an 18th century Mass by Don Jose Aldana, discovered
in April of this year in the archives of the National Conservatory
of Music in Mexico City.

An orchestra and chorus especially assembled for the series
has been formed by Mr. Chavez. The first three evening concerts,
May 16, 17 and 18, will be conducted by Mr. Chavez, and the series will
continue for two weeks with two performances daily, at 3:30 p.m. and
8:45 p.m., including Sunday.

In his task of selection and synthesis of the music, Mr.
Chavez enlisted the services of Mexico's most eminent composers,
musicologists and specialists. They included Eduardo Hernandez
Moncada, composer and conductor, who will assume direction of the
Orchestra following Mr. Chavez's appearances; Bias Oalindo, fullblooded
Indian composer from the state of Jalisco; Vicente Mendoza, a
distinguished authority on Mexican folk music; Candelarlo Huizar,
Professor at the National Conservatory of Music; Luis Sandi, Chief
Of the Department of Music in the Secretariat of Public Education; and


Jeronimo Baqueiro, musicologist and critic, who has made an extensive
study of huapangos from the state of Vera Cruz.
The first composition of the program is called "Xochlpili-
Macuilxochll," and was written by Carlos Chavez in an attempt to recapture
the Aztec musical culture known through actual discovery of
instruments and through the Florentine codices. The orchestral
ensemble will include the sea-snail shells; the teponaxtle, a
cylindrical piece of wood hollowed out to produce a sound box; the
huehuotles, great Indian drums; the omichica-huaztlis, wooden and bone
rasps; a score of other percussion instruments like rattles, rasping
sticks and drums of various sizes; and finally flutes of which there
are many examples in the National Museum of Mexico.
"I sought in this composition," said Mr. Chavez, "to penetrate
the totality of Indian culture. It is, of course, an experiment.
But the Aztec musical tradition was strong, complete and deeply rooted
and even today the pure Indigenous music is still sung in various
remote places in Mexico. In great religious processions we may still
hear Indians playing the 'huehuetle,' the 'Teponaxtle' and their little flutes.

"But I should say that the Indian music which best preserves
its purity in Mexico is not what remains of Aztec culture, but that
of the more or less primitive or nomad tribes like the Yaquis and the
Seris. They have preserved an almost archaic culture."
Luis Sandi, who has arranged the Yaqui music group, has tried
to keep as close to the original as possible." The music is vigorous
and dramatic and the orchestras have an astonishing variety of percussion
instruments, including drums, water drums, rasps, bunches of
dried butterfly cocoons, called "capullos de mariposa." In Yaqui
music the melody is carried by a flute and each percussion instrument
keeps up a distinct rhythm which changes from measure to measure.
In like fashion, many of tha traditional Pre-Conquest hymns
still prevail and Mr. Chavez used one of them in the final dance of
his ballet, "Los Cuatro Soles," a ritual dance of adoration to Centeotl, 
Goddess of Maize. This ballet, written in 1925, represented a turning 
back to Mexican legend and art as a source of musical inspiration.
Two of its dances make up the final group of the Museum program.

But the Conquistador did bring into Mexico a real wealth of new music, new 
                                                  instruments, new melodies, new forms.


"This torrent of music," continued Mr. Chavez, "began little
by little to usurp the place of the aboriginal music and it necessarily
forms an important part of our program. In the first place there
is the religious music, which follows the same course in Mexico as in
other parts of the world. The 18th century Mass by Aldana, which we
shall play, is a fine example of religious music of the late Colonial
period, and the composer was undoubtedly familiar with the styles of
Handel, Haydn and Mozart, although not in any sense imitative." The
Mass was edited and arranged for the Museum program by Candelario

Also introduced by the Spaniards was popular peasant music,
such as "Jarabe," Huapango and many others. The program will Include
"La Paloma Azul," typical of the genre of peasant sentimental song,
very much influenced by the Italian aria and romanaza. Italian opera
was widely cultivated in Mexico during the 18th and 19th centuries,
but the Mexican songs retained, however, a very special flavor of their 

Finally, there is a group devoted to the Mexican Corrido, in
many remote parts of Mexico the equivalent of newspaper, magazine,
radio and newsreel. The Corrido singer is a modern troubadour, whose
songs deal with crimes, natural catastrophes, railroad wrecks, wars
and even the international monetary crisis. Frequently as part of
their performance, brightly colored handbills containing the words
and primitive illustrations of the events narrated are sold for a few
centavos to the audience who read them as the singer proceeds.
Corridos are quite common among the Mexicans in California, Arizona,
New Mexico and Texas. Included in one group of marches, waltzes and
songs, selected by Mr. Chavez, as typical popular music of the Mexican
Republic is the famous Corrido "La Adelita," an anonymous ballad of
the 1910 Revolution.

Tickets for the concerts, for either afternoon or evening
performances, are one dollar, which includes admission to the exhibition
of Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art. Tickets for the first three
evening concerts, conducted by Mr. Chavez, are priced at $3.00 each.
Reservations may be made at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53
Street, New York City.



Arranged and Directed by Carlos Chavez
Auditorium of the Museum of Modern Art

Conductors: Carlos Chavez - First Three Evening Concerts,
May 16, 17, 18 at 8:45 P.M.
Eduardo Hernandez Moncada ~ Friday and Saturday
afternoons, May 17 and 18 at 2:30 P.M. and
2 performances daily, 2:30 P.M. and 8:45 P.M.
from May 19 through May 29, including Sunday.

I. Xochiplll-Macullxochil Carlos Chavez
Music for Pre-Conquest Instruments (16th Century)
II. Rones Mariachi arranged by Bias Galindo
For Orchestra (18th and 19th Centuries)
III. Corrldos Mexicanos arranged by Vicente Mendoza
For Orchestra and Chorus (18th, 19th and 20th Centuries)
IV. Mass by Don Jose Aldana arranged by Candelario Huizar
For Orchestra, Organ and Chorus (18th Century)
V.Marcha, Vals, Canclon arranged by Carlos Chavez
For Orchestra and Chorus (19th Century)
VI. Huapangos arranged by Geronimo Baqueiro
For Orchestra (19th and 20th Centuries)
VII. La Paloma Azul arranged by Carlos Chavez
For Orchestra and Chorus (19th and 20th Centuries)
VIII. Yaqui Music arranged by Luis Sandi
For Orchestra (Traditional)
IX. Two Dances from "Los Cuatro Soles" Carlos Chavez

1. Carlos Chávez: Sinfonía India

2. José Pablo Moncayo: Huapango

3. Carlos Chávez: Corrido de "El Sol"
     for Chorus and Orchestra

4. Carlos Chávez: Obertura Republicana

The Symphony Orchestra of Mexico
Coro del Conservatorio / Carlos Chávez

(LP transfer; Decca, 1956)

Aaron Copland has written concerning the accomplishments of Carlos Chávez and importance of his music:

"Carlos Chávez is one of the best examples I know of a thoroughly contemporary composer. He has faced in his music almost all the major problems of modern music: the overthrow of German ideals, the objectification of sentiment, the use of folk material in its relation to nationalism, the intricate rhythms, the linear as opposed to vertical writing, the specifically 'modern' sound images. It is music that belongs entirely to our own age. It propounds no problems, no metaphysics. Chávez's muisic is extraordinarily healthy. It is music created not as a substitute for living but as a manifestation of life. It is clear and clean-sounding, without shadows or softness. Here is contemporary music if there ever was any.... 

... with keen intuition, singlehandedly, [Chávez] created a tradition that no future Mexican composer can afford to ignore. If I stress this point, it is because I feel that no other composer - not even Béla Bartók or de Falla - has succeeded so well in using folk material in its pure form while at the same time solving the problem of its complete amalgamation into an art form."

For the first performance his "Obertura Republicana" (1935) Carlos Chávez has supplied the following note: 

"I do not see why our audiences should be deprived of the beautiful melodies that I have combined into my 'Republican Overture.' I don't know how our Republican music is not 'highbrow' enough for symphonic treatment when this is not true of minuets or colonial masses. I am certain that our orchestra complies with an unfulfilled duty when it brings to our symphony audiences this, our own music, which is so legitimate, so loyal to itself and its cradle ... Nobody will doubt, on hearing these delightful melodies, Mexico's very own, that they belong to an epoch and to a place. Here is the 'National' music, the Mexican music, from the nineteenth century. 

Do not think that in presenting this composition under the name of 'Overture' that I assume to give the word its formalistic meaning. I have selected this title because the word itself sounds well." 


Biography of Carlos Chávez (Spanish, English & French):



... meanwhile, on ebay:


Chavez A Program of Mexican Music 1949 10" Columbia ML 2080

[... Chavez who?]


US $369,99
(Ca. EUR 343,89)

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

1. In the South (Alassio), Overture, Op. 50

2. Bavarian Dance, Op. 27, No. 3 "The Marksmen" (Bei Murnau)

London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Sir Edward Elgar

(78 rpm transfer; HMV, recorded Sept. 15 & 18, 1930)