Antonio Muñoz Molina on PCE’s Redes

“Revueltas is one of those composers who for various accidental reasons — his disorderly life and premature death, the fact of his being Mexican – does not occupy the place that he should in a present-day musical culture that clings so tenaciously to the sclerotic. . . . His music, so powerful in itself, highlights the rich artistic crossroads of the thirties, the tensions between modernity and mass culture, between formal innovation and political activism.


PostClassical Ensemble enters into this realm with an effort not only to recover works now merely names, but to put that music and those names in the context of their own time, to illuminate connections with politics, with social and historical facts, with everything that surrounds and feeds the music. With his bow ties and jumping locks of hair, Angel Gil-Ordonez possesses a double worldliness as an orchestral conductor and a professor at a prestigious American university. On New York City’s Upper West Side, Joseph Horowitz is a classical-music anchorite of scholarship and demanding passion, but his knowledge extends with equal rigor to literature and cinema, to the history of culture through the great crises of the twentieth century. His book Artists in Exile, on the great European diaspora caused by Nazism and Communism, combines the aspirations of an historical chronicle and a tidal novel. . . .


Their latest great effort of rediscovery is the premiere recording of the complete score composed by Silvestre Revueltas for a legendary 1935 Mexican film, Redes, in collaboration with the photographer Paul Strand and exiled Austrian filmmaker Fred Zinnemann. It is hard to imagine a more complete conjunction of talent. . . .


In 1935 the best films still preserved the purity and expressive visual sophistication of silent cinema. In Redes, imagery and music combine so powerfully that the few spoken words are rather irrelevant. Revueltas’s love of Stravinsky and of the folk music of Mexico inspire a fiercely corporeal rhythmic sensibility applied to the collective choreography of fishermen. Almost twenty years later, in Hollywood, Fred Zinnemann would direct High Noon, in which we find a bedazzled white clarity of inflexible sunlight identical Redes. Now, with a restored print of Redes and Revueltas’ soundtrack newly recorded by PostClassical Ensemble, the beauty of image and of sound register as never before. As Joseph Horowitz says, it is like experiencing a masterpiece of painting cleaned of centuries of grime. The exhausted and disillusioned Silvestre Revueltas of his final years would never have imagined such posterity.”


— Antonio Munoz Molina, in El Pais (Madrid), May 28, 2016

Press Extracts

“In the classical music field, “multimedia” has become a tired buzzword for something purportedly unconventional, usually involving video projections. But the PostClassical Ensemble really did offer multimedia in its long, packed, content-rich concert as part of the Kennedy Center’s “Iberian Suite” festival Tuesday night. . . . It was an impressive array, and . . . pretty much blew the festival’s opening-night presentation last week out of the water.”
-Anne Midgette, The Washington Post (March 11, 2015)

“wildly ambitious…”
-Anne Midgette, The Washington Post (April 26, 2010)

“The City” [as produced by PostClassical Ensemble as a Naxos DVD] has a magnificent and virtually unknown score by Aaron Copland. PostClassical Ensemble is an orchestra that comprises as many as seventy musicians or as few as five or six, a creation always in motion in which the enthusiastic gymnastics of Angel Gil-Ordonez are balanced by the almost Central European erudition of the artistic director, Joseph Horowitz. Horowitz and Gil-Ordonez conceive projects unusual for their evasion of known repertoire, searching for estimable music that for whatever reason is not celebrated or heard, and which affords a connection with cultural phenomena which resonate with it.”
-Antonio Muñoz Molina, Scherzo (Madrid), 2009

“PCE — the always provocative concerts, films, and talks — is where culture and friendship meet most easily in Washington.”  
-Philip Bennett, former Managing Editor of The Washington Post
“one of the country’s most innovative music groups…”
-Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post“PostClassical Ensemble never met a musical convention it didn’t want to smash, which is why its concerts tend to be the most adventurous in town.”
— Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post (Sept. 23, 2012)

“…That was the strategy behind “The Russian Gershwin,” the program on Friday night at the Clarice Smith Center. Russia, it turns out, has long been crazy for Gershwin and has taken him far more seriously than America has, and the group brought two gifted young Russian pianists to show us why.”
— Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post (Sept. 27, 2010)

“Charismatic PCE Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez led a taut, unforgettable reading.”
— Brett Campbell, MusicalAmerica. Lou Harrison Feted in D.C. (March 14, 2011)

“PostClassical Ensemble has added a new and engaging dimension to our musical life”
— Tim Page, The Washington Post (Oct. 28, 2005)

“It’s easy to see why PostClassical Ensemble would embrace George Gershwin. This most American of composers has long been underappreciated at home, relegated to pops concerts for the sin of having drawn on jazz and popular music. But Gershwin is overdue for a fresh look, and that’s the ensemble’s specialty: turning familiar music on its head, providing context and fresh perspectives and generally pulling the rug out from under listeners.

That was the strategy behind “The Russian Gershwin,” the program on Friday night at the Clarice Smith Center. Russia, it turns out, has long been crazy for Gershwin and has taken him far more seriously than America has, and the group brought two gifted young Russian pianists to show us why.”
— Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post (Sept. 27, 2010),

“Horowitz is one of the canniest thinkers and writers on the music scene”
— Anne Midgette, The Washington Post (Sept. 23, 2010)

“I wish the Post-Classical Ensemble could develop a regular presence in Baltimore. Its programming in the Washington area, like last season’s terrific revival of an obscure 19th-century operetta and, later this month, the pairing of a concert with a re-enactment of Copland’s 1953 testimony before Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s infamous communist-hunting committee, is invariably original and thought-provoking.”
—Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun (Jan. 22, 2009)

“The reissue of these documentaries is embellished with superb restorations of the films and newly recorded music tracks. Exciting interviews complete these DVDs, which remember the times of hope and social progress that were the Roosevelt years.”
-Renaud Machart, Le Monde [Paris], March 2011 (reviewing PCE’s Naxos DVDs of The Plow that Broke the PlainsThe River, and The City)

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