Colorful and attractive, this choice does make for a reductive picture of Ginastera, whose composing career took him from music of national character to more modern techniques. This Orfeo recording has a cello/piano sonata from 1979. By this time the composer had decided to bring modern composition techniques into play with some of the material from his earlier period. By no means harsh or aggressively challenging, the piece provides a nice contrast to the rest of the disc’s music, which does call to mind some of the archetypal Argentinean imagery described above.
Soprano Ofelia Sala sings on 7 of the disc’s 16 tracks, all early works of warmth and indigenous atmosphere. Brief songs for voice and piano, they take up barely 15 minutes of the disc’s running time. Ginastera composed three operas, almost mostly unknown to Northern hemisphere stages, but this music here doesn’t give mush of a sense of his operatic style. The music for Dos Canciones and Cinco canciones populares argentines doesn’t require Ms. Sala to stretch her slender, attractive instrument. Tuneful, with fairly simple accompaniment, these attractive pieces make for pleasant but not especially memorable listening. The Cancion a la luna lunanca of the Dos canciones, however, has a sweet endearing simplicity, calling to mind Victoria de los Angeles’s classic recordings of Spanish songs and Sala sings it with touching tenderness.
A keyboard suite, Danzas argentines, and two other chamber pieces, Pampeana #1 and #2, complete the disc. For collectors of this composer, this disc of chamber music in intimate, stylish performances should be quite rewarding. Newcomers to Ginastera’s music might wish to look for a disc containing a suite from his Stravinsky-inspired music for the ballet Estancia. David Robertson leads the Lyon national orchestra in a solid performance on the Naïve label from a year or two ago – it might still be found (!).
Orfeo provides texts in Spanish and English for the Cinco canciones populares argentines, but only Spanish for Dos Canciones. Perhaps a new recording of one of Ginastera’s operas will come along one day. Until then, this disc offers at least a sampling of his vocal music. And some nice gaucho photos.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy