One of recently appointed Spoleto resident conductor John Kennedy’s apparent new duties is to come up with interesting (and challenging) programs for special events and established festival series (other than his own Music in Time). And that’s just what he did at Monday’s memorable Intermezzi III program at Grace Church. Featured were the accessible and appealing works of three highly worthwhile and important 20th century composers: Silvestre Revueltas, György Ligeti, and Leoš Janàçek
Revueltas — often called the “Mexican Stravinsky” — was one of those tortured geniuses who drank himself to death by age 40. And he’s one of my favorite composers of the century past. Long neglected, his vital and often fearfully intense music seems to have made something of a comeback over the past decade or so. Given his music’s often manically spiky rhythmic drive and astringent harmonies, the Stravinsky comparison is apt — but he’s a true child of his nation, and an important part of the fine old Latin American orchestral tradition.