Ginastera: One Hundred
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Ginastera: One Hundred
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"[Yolanda Kondonassis'] performance abounds with affectionate detail, particularly in the third-movement cadenza, which she plays with a keen sense of dramatic timing and a range of colour that's breathtaking. The orchestra of the Oberlin Conservatory under Raphael Jiménez provide solid support."
"All the works are performed with a dazzling virtuosity, a flamboyant rhythmic vivacity, and a mastery of instrumental color . . . this disc will be a definitive reference."
- PASSION MUSIQUE ET CULTURE
"The album is a masterpiece. Kondonassis's playing in the concerto is rhythmically exact, yet passionate. It is mesmerizing... The Shahams are two of the most inspiring performers of our day, and their performance on this album simply adds another feather to what must be an already heavily-plumed cap... Jason Vieaux's playing captures the ear with equal parts charisma and wistfulness. Like the other soloists, Vieaux is at the top of his field, and he ties the album's performances together with uncanny skill... A wonderful overview of Ginastera's music." CLEVELANDCLASSICAL.com
"BEST OF 2017" --Sirius XM Radio
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 5 x 0.2 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Oberlin Music
- Original Release Date : 2016
- Date First Available : August 16, 2016
- Label : Oberlin Music
- ASIN : B01KIX62EG
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#174,612 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- #5,588 in Symphonies (CDs & Vinyl)
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Pampeana no. 1, op. 16 (1947): Gil Shaham, viol; Orli Shaham, p.
Sonata for Guitar, op. 47 (1976): Jason Vieaux, guit.
Danzas Argentinas, op. 2 (1937): Orli Shaham, p.
Setting aside nuevo tanguero Astor Piazzolla, Alberto Ginastera (d. 1983) was the best known composer of classical music in Argentina in modern times. This lovely recording, honoring the centenary of the composer’s birth, is the product of a set of concerts (November 13-15, 2015, and February 10, 2016) recorded at Warner Concert Hall, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College, and released by Oberlinmusic. It’s not a recording you would come across unless you were looking for it, but it’s a fine one.
The artists involved are all first rate. I’m not a great lover of harp music but if anyone could convert me to a disciple, it’s Kondonassis, whose playing uses the whole instrument and not just the over-used middle strings and whose control over both plucked and strummed (swirled?) passages is masterful and musical. As good as the rest of this album is, the Harp Concerto is its premiere showpiece. It’s a wonderful piece of music, modern enough not to seem hackneyed and possessing wondrous passages for both harp and orchestra. (This is a first rate orchestra, by the way, and Jimenez is a sympathetic interpreter of this music.)
Violinist Shaham has long been a favorite of mine, blessed with superb technique and –violin and his playing of it—a beautiful tone. Indeed, at the same time that I ordered this album, I ordered two more albums by Shaham –two duet albums with guitarist Goran Sollscher, playing Schubert and Paganini.) “Pampeana no. 1” is a short piece, nine minutes long, more than one movement but not separated in the program. (The piano doesn’t enter until four minutes in, when the second theme starts.) The piece is more about violin than about piano, but there are lovely moments for the Shahams, Gil on violin and Orli (who is a fine pianist) on piano.
The guitar sonata (guitarist Jason Vieaux), twelve minutes and four movements long, is not my cup of tea. It’s lovely music but doesn’t stick out as individual in my mind –just decent quality Andalucian guitar solo stuff. The second movement though, which is a scherzo, really turns up the heat -it’s truly interesting. Orli Shaham’s interpretation of the three danzas argentinas, the piece in this collection that most shows Ginastera’s pride in his gaucho roots, is fast and fiery.
I have another Ginastera commemorative album sitting on my desk, his three piano concertos recorded at the University of Michigan, but haven’t got to listening to it yet, other than a brief sampling. If it’s half as good as this album is, I’m in for a treat.
"I am no longer searching for a national style but a personal style," said Ginastera looking back on a career that is the perfect musical expression of Jorge Luis Borges' 1951 essay "The Argentine Writer and Tradition". "Our patrimony is the universe;" says Borges, "we should essay all themes, and we cannot limit ourselves to purely Argentine subjects in order to be Argentine." Though Ginastera famously divided his music into three periods, Objective Nationalism, Subjective Nationalism and Neo-Expressionism, the general move from simple folkloric works to a more international, avant garde style did not remove folklore from the equation. Indeed, the relatively late Guitar Sonata from 1976 is replete with Cuecha and Nambicuara melodies and what Ginastera himself (channeling his inner music reviewer, perhaps) called "the strong, bold rhythms of the music of the pampas.*" The Guitar Sonata is not at all a doctrinaire post-War twelve-tone work, but rather a work of syncretism. There's even a quote from Wagner's Meistersinger in the witty Scherzo. Writing a Sonata in 1976 was an act of independence; to include such a fun Scherzo even more so. One of the things I love about Jason Vieaux's performance, which is the best I've heard, is how he pulls out all the stops in this movement without any sense of losing control. Comedy is famously hard, and it's hardest of all to pull off in music. There's a lot of layers here: Vieaux carefully negotiates the complex technical logistics while putting across Ginastera's take-off of Wagner's not-as-subtle put-down of Sixtus Beckmesser. Vieaux makes the whole Sonata sound completely organic, and this fine performance only emphasizes the importance of this piece in the Classical Guitar literature.
It's a stylistic step back to the early (1937) Danzas Argentinas, op. 2, played beautifully by pianist Orli Shaham. I've commented before that Ginastera and Villa-Lobos moved in opposite directions (I quote myself: "The career of Villa-Lobos is a retrograde inversion of Ginastera's. Villa went from modernism to nationalism, Ginastera the reverse.") Villa perhaps was Benjamin Button in this scenario.
But in the late 1930s, the two were in sync with each other. Villa's Ciclo Brasileiro, written in 1936-37, shares the same pianistic textures, explores similar rhythms, also flirts with bi-tonality, and shares similar "Indianist" characteristics. While Ginastera has introduced modernist tropes into his music by 1947's Pampeana no. 1, op. 16, played here by Orli Shaham and her bother, the great violinist Gil, this music is not at all difficult on the ears. That's partly because of Ginastera's tendency to call back to 19th century virtuosi, especially Paganini, in much the same way Villa-Lobos quotes Puccini or Rimsky-Korsakov in the middle of otherwise very progressive music. It's also, as the excellent liner essay by Oberlin Conservatory Professor James O'Leary demonstrates, because Ginastera learned from his teacher Aaron Copland to temper modernism with the simple, open, honest music of "the common man". One of the most useful parts of O'Leary's commentary is the light it shines on the political aspects of these issues which seem at first purely musical. Ginastera's experience, like Copland's and Villa-Lobos's, had a political component every bit as fraught with difficulty, if not as dangerous in the end, as the experience of Prokofiev and Shostakovich.
Less so than the workmanlike Villa-Lobos Harp Concerto of 1953, Ginastera's 1956 Harp Concerto, op. 25, is an obvious star turn for the composer and for generations of grateful harpists. "He wrote our piece", says Yolanda Kondonassis in her introduction to the album. It has a Bachian combination of erudite structure and joyful invention. Kondonassis, who has performed the work nearly 200 times, has mastered this music, and it shows in this completely secure but playful performance. She has superb support from the excellent Oberlin Orchestra under Raphael Jimenez.
This is really one of the most exciting recording projects I've come across this year. Everyone involved has connected to this marvellous music in a way that doesn't always get communicated to audiences quite like this. Kudos to the Oberlin Conservatory for providing both the academic foundation and sophisticated technical and marketing support for such an auspicious celebration.