Argentinean Alberto Ginastera was among the most successful mid-twentieth century composers in retaining the populist accessibility of his early works while incorporating elements of serialism as his style developed. His later works may not have the hummable melodies or propulsive rhythmic drive of his early period, but they have a comparable dramatic logic and emotional directness, which give them an immediate appeal. His two cello concertos, written in 1968 and 1981, are clearly "modernist" works of his late period, but they are warmly lyrical, intensely dramatic, and orchestrated with intriguing inventiveness. In their slow sections, they are also prime examples of the mysterious, gorgeously evocative atmospherics of which Ginastera was a master throughout his career.
After achieving independence from Spain, Argentina developed its own models for concert- and opera-going, even though these continued in many respects to reflect European traditions. Musical legends emerged during this time: Astor Piazzolla, the founder of the Tango Nuevo, Mauricio Kagel, Carlos Gardel and Alberto Ginastera, the man considered for decades to be the country's most significant composer of classical music. Three of the works recorded on this CD fall into Ginastera's final ‘Neo-Expressionist’ period: the Concerto per corde Op.33 (1965), cast in a classical, four-movement form; the Estudios sinfonicos Op.35 (1967), which represent Ginastera at his most adventurous with the avant-garde style; and the Glosses sobra temes de Pau Casals Op.48 (1976/77), in which Ginastera experiments by taking traditional themes by the great Spanish cellist Pablo Casals and holding them up to an avant-garde mirror.
David Leisner is on extraordinarily versatile musician with a multifaceted career as electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher. Regarded as one of America’s leading classical guitarists, his superb musicianship and provocative programming have been applauded by critics and audiences around the world.
The connection between Wales and the harp is a long-standing one, and Mathias's part in it began 12 years before his Harp Concerto was written, with Improvisations for harp solo; even a Welshman has to learn how to cope with such an idiosyncratic instrument. He learned his lessons well—even using semitone pedal glissandos in the second movement, and he keeps the harp audible by alternating its solo passages with orchestral ones or, when the two are working together treating the orchestra with a light touch (the celesta is used as a particularly effective companion to the harp), at other times resorting to the more familiar across-the-strings sweep. Two movements have declared Welsh associations: the first juxtaposes but does not develop three themes the second is a 'bardic' elegy; the last is simply ''joyful and rhythmic''. The whole makes pleasing listening appealing to the emotions and imagination rather than the intellect.
Impressive in our ongoing, very successful Spanish music series, the BBC Philharmonic and its chief conductor, Juanjo Mena, also explores the works of the Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera in three orchestral volumes. Not only acknowledged as a leading South-American composer of his day, Ginastera is also seen as one of the heroes of Latin-American music in general, whose enduring source of inspiration was Argentina itself: its pre-Columbian legacy on the one hand and the vast landscapes of the pampas on the other.
Ginastera was Argentina's most famous composer. In the early part of his career he composed music with strong reflections of the folk music of the country. Later, by the time he wrote this 1969 violin concerto, he had adopted a more international, often atonal, style. The form of the concertoo is strikingly original, as is the music itself. The concerto begins with a cadenza. Then there are six variations on music from the cadenza, in the form of ……
My first encounter with the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera was during my student years, while learning his First Piano Sonata… It was a joy to study because of the composer's craft; he knew and respected the piano and was able to exploit it for his own personal expression.Barbara Nissman