GINASTERA Harp Concerto. Guitar Sonata
This centenary tribute to the Argentine composer Alfredo Ginastera is the brainchild of harpist Yolanda Kondonassis – an act of gratitude, she writes in the booklet-note, for the ‘gift’ of the composer’s Harp Concerto (1956/68). Her 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, though they lack the power and élan of the Mexico City Philharmonic under Bátiz or the Lyon National Orchestra under Robertson.
The Pampeana No 1 (1947) is an Argentine rhapsody along the lines of Bartók or Enescu, with a long, song-like introduction leading into a rollicking, virtuoso dance. Gil and Orli Shaham underscore the music’s modernist elements in a spiky, lean-toned and rhythmically taut reading. Much the same can be said for Orli Shaham’s cleanly articulated, thoroughly unsentimental interpretation of the folkloric Danzas argentinas (1937), though I still prefer Fernando Viani’s Naxos recording for its warmth and ferocity.
Ginastera’s Guitar Sonata (1976) has been served well on disc, with well over a dozen versions available. I can’t say I know them all, but I’ve heard enough to confidently assert that Jason Vieaux’s account is superb. He glides through the technical challenges of the Scherzo with playful ease and moulds the curt, angular phrases of the slow movement into a richly expressive, lyrical whole.
For those new to Ginastera’s music, this varied programme would be a fine place to start. Guitar lovers, in particular, should not hesitate to hear Vieaux’s masterful performance.