Revueltas: Caminos; A Description and Perspective

                 Caminos begins with a dark chord presented by the brass.   A clarinet peaks through imitating this with its lowest register, only to be buried by a trombone with a moving line going up a scale.  Oboes appear, teasingly switching back and forth between two notes, but like the clarinet they are buried by brass who are this time in numbers traveling up a similar scale.  Trumpets eventually join in and present a simple yet triumphant fanfare-like theme within a pentatonic scale.  Following this we hear the first entrance of the strings that expand upon the trumpet fanfare and carry a complex harmony between themselves.  The strings hand their sound back to the trumpets who bring back their triumphant, pentatonic fanfare once again.

Next is a highly chromatic and tense section that begins with the low strings and woodwinds presenting an erratic line upward while using tremolo.  The violins join in and lead the entire string and woodwind sections to a high point where they sit for a moment, still using tremolo.  The trumpets return yet again on top of this high point, now presenting a fanfare with a happier motive.  Following this we hear the first entrance from the percussion, a gong, marking yet another erratic and chromatic climb upward similar to that of the low strings and woodwinds but this time presented by the brass.  At the top of this climb the brass enter into a melody that is nearly jazz-like in nature while the strings provide support with an extremely dissonant harmony underneath.  This notion continues for some time with different brass instruments presenting a melody supported by dissonant strings.

We have now shifted to a more consonant portion of the piece.  A lovely song-like melody is heard from various woodwind instruments with a striking accompaniment in the harp.  The harp dies away as the accompaniment is now being giving by the strings.  As you may guess, this is far more dissonant than the harp’s lines.  The woodwinds follow suite, sinking into a darker and more harsh sound but then popping immediately back into the beautiful melody accompanied by the harp.

The final section of the piece is once again the jazzy trumpet melody accompanied by the rest of the orchestra filling in dissonant harmony.  The final sound of the piece is a simple major chord, however, which draws this work to a jarring conclusion.

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For me, Caminos is a very typical representation of Revueltas’ style and technique.  Although this work does not contain nearly as much dissonance as many of his other pieces I’ve observed, there is often an underlying harmonic structure that is extremely unstable.  To balance this, Revueltas is constantly providing melodies that seem to be slightly folk in nature.  As an end product, Revueltas’ music provides some traditional Mexican sounds and folk melodies that are jarred and poked at by bizarre accompaniment and harmonies.

-Nathan Black

 

Malmstrom, Dan. Introduction to Twentieth Century Mexican Music. Uppsala, Sweden, 1974.

Stevenson, Robert. Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey. New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1971.

Stevenson, Robert. “Revueltas, Silvestre.” Accessed  February 6, 2017. http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.lib.utep.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/23289?q=silvestre revueltas&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit.

Sturman, Janet Lynn. The Course of Mexican Music. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group, 2016.

 

 

 

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