The Argentinian Album
Piazzolla must be the most-arranged composer of recent times, a tribute to his compositions’ inherent strength as much as to their popularity. Leonid Desyatnikov’s reworking (1996 98) of the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires – one of the Argentinian’s most delicious combinations of Tango Nuevo with Classical convention – is technically adroit but very intrusive, altering each piece’s structure and incorporating, however tongue-in-cheek, quotations from Vivaldi and, in ‘Winter’, Pachelbel’s ubiquitous Canon. These change the expressive content in a fundamental way, not necessarily for the better. Nonetheless, Candida Thompson dispatches the solo part with commendable swing, leading the ensemble with aplomb.
The main event here, undeniably, is Ginastera’s Concerto for strings, a tremendously invigorating work reflecting many of its composer’s stylistic and expressive concerns. Opening quietly, with a sequence of instrumental solos from the section leaders, it builds through the succeeding movements to a hell-for-leather finale of Bartókian vitality. The Amsterdam Sinfonietta’s account is splendidly prepared and executed, worthy of comparison with that of I Musici di Montréal which so impressed Lionel Salter. The Canadians are a touch fleeter than their Dutch rivals but there is little to choose between the rival versions: Channel Classics’ sound is clear if slightly clinical compared to the warmer atmosphere on Chandos.
Couplings may then be the primary differential and, for those wanting the Desyatnikov arrangement and Golijov’s Piazzolla tribute Last Round (1991, orch 1997), the newcomer will be self-recommending. Chandos paired the Ginastera with Villa-Lobos and arrangements by Evangelista. On balance, the Chandos remains marginally preferable but the new disc is highly recommendable in its own right.