HIDALGO: LA HISTORIA JAMÁS CONTADA – Alejandro Giacomán


Original Review by Alan Rogers

In Hidalgo: La Historia Jamás Contada, we see Miguel Hidalgo remembering moments of his life from his jail cell. A Mexican priest, Hidalgo is best remembered as a leader in the Mexican War of Independence against the Spanish colonial authorities. This film focuses mainly on his tenure as a parish priest in a small town, having been sent there at the order of the church authorities because of his progressive ideas. He translates and produces Molière’s stage play “Tartuffe” (a play that echoes Hidalgo’s own problems with the church) as the parish priest. Filmed by Mexican director Antonio Serrano, he calls upon fellow Mexican Alejandro Giacomán to score this personal story.

To be honest, if the music is any indicator of the pace of the film then it’s quite a slow film. The orchestral score (played by the San Luis Potosi Symphony Orchestra), particularly in the first two-thirds, is cue after cue of ominous and suspenseful music that is dominated by low strings. The music’s role here appears to be more to set the scene of the film rather than provide themes. Only occasionally is the feel of the music lifted with the inclusion of solo instruments. Tracks such as “Casa Grande y Abandonada” and “Transgresión” feature solo flute that brighten the tension and “Nerviosismo Antes de Molière” has an interesting interchange between different sections of brass and woodwinds. Track 10, “Despedida del Rector”, is the first real heartfelt highlight of the score and we hear solo brass and woodwinds providing an emotional quality that builds to a powerful and almost optimistic climax to the cue. It is not until the final third of the orchestral score that we hear music that is particularly cinematic. The music opens out, including more and more sections of the orchestra to instil both drama and emotion, putting aside the long string lines and ostinatos and becoming more thematic and uplifting.

The overall score is divided into three main parts: the orchestral score, 2-3 tracks featuring traditional Mexican tunes (played on guitar and percussion) and music that seems to be associated with the production of the Molière play. In these latter cues (e.g, “Minueto Fiesta”, “Picnic Cortesano” and “Así Conocí a Tartufo”), an ensemble of musicians playing instruments such as recorder, harpsichord, cornetto, violin and guitar, play music in the Baroque style. It is interesting to note the cue “Odian a Tartufo”. Here, we hear the ensemble of Baroque-style instruments playing music that is not of the Baroque style. Rather, they appear to now be a part of the orchestral score somehow linking the themes of the play and the film itself?

I have kept the highlight of the score to the end, partly because it seems so separate from the rest of the score and because I have no idea where it fits with the music that has gone before. Bookending this release, “Que Sople el Viento” is heard twice and is a song (sung in Spanish) that is by far one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in the last year. Scored for a small ensemble of players including guitar and recorder, and sung by Denise Gutierrez (listed by her Hello Seahorse! band pseudonym, Lo Blondo), this song is both dramatic and emotional – helped enormously by the quality of Gutierrez’ voice. There is a quality about it that demands it be listened to again and again. Magical!

On balance, this is a disappointing release. The score begins with a version of the wonderful “Que Sople el Viento” but never lives up to the promise of this first track. The majority of the score is not particularly memorable outside the film (Giacomán’s score took the Best Score prize at this year’s Mexican Film Academy awards) and it is only the traditional Mexican music and the Baroque cues that stick in the mind after the score has finished. And “Que Sople el Viento”. If there is only one thing to take away from this review, it is to listen to this song. The score is available at the usual digital outlets.

Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on blue arrow next to running time for samples of entire album or individual tracks.

Rating: **

  1. Que Sople el Viento
  2. Juicio y Muerte del Diestro
  3. Recordando Pátzcuaro
  4. Corriendo al Ensayo de Teatro
  5. Expulsión de Los Jesuitas
  6. El Pájaro Cu
  7. Lectura del Pulque Derramado
  8. Rezando, Preocupaciones y Audiencia
  9. El Obispo
  10. Despedida del Rector
  11. San Felipe Torres Mochas
  12. Casa Grande y Abandonada
  13. Queman el Pueblo de Los Indios
  14. Trescientos Años de Agravio
  15. Minueto Fiesta
  16. Xácara Hidalgo
  17. El Cupido
  18. Chuchumbé
  19. Juguetón y Escandaloso
  20. Obra de Teatro Prohibida
  21. El Diestro Marroquín
  22. Picnic Cortesano
  23. Gallina Ciega
  24. Así Conocí a Tartufo
  25. Saltarello san Caralampio
  26. El Taller de Cerámica
  27. Vengo a Confesarme
  28. Procurador de La Deuda
  29. Atardecer
  30. Kinky Para Mano y Mesa
  31. Entrada al Ruedo
  32. Sangis
  33. Recordando Matanza
  34. Transgresión
  35. Nerviosismo Antes de Molière
  36. Intro Obra
  37. Párroco y Beso Actores
  38. Realmente Lo Que Soy
  39. Odian a Tartufo
  40. No Puedo Seguir Como Tartufo
  41. Francaso
  42. Lamentosa
  43. Que Sople el Viento
  44. Independencia

Running Time: 76:06

Hip Latin Music (2010)

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