Harp Concerto; Variaciones concertantes
Sidsel Walstad (harp); Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Miguel Harth-Bedoya
Lawo Classics LWC1182 48:52 mins
Alberto Ginastera was one of the foremost 20th-century composers of the Americas. A mentor to Piazzolla in the 1940s, Ginastera himself later studied with Aaron Copland and went on to co-found the Argentinian League of Composers. Much of his music is yet to receive the acclaim it deserves, but these two dazzling orchestral pieces have become justly popular concert works.
Ginastera’s Harp Concerto (1965) combines fierce rhythmic energy with passages of ethereal beauty and calm. It is fiendishly demanding for the soloist – harpist Sidsel Walstad describes its performance as akin to ‘climbing a mountain’ – but she makes light work of the Concerto’s technical rigours in this wonderfully spirited and sensitive interpretation, well-supported throughout by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Composed 12 years earlier, the Variaciones concertantes is a splendid showstopper for orchestra, showcasing each instrument of the ensemble across ten colourful variations. Ginastera sought to conjure an ‘Argentinian mood’ in the work, and the score’s pentatonic harmonies, rhythmic dynamism and echoes of the open strings of a ‘gaucho’ guitar all warmly evoke the music and landscape of the composer’s homeland. With a further fine performance here from NRO, this disc offers an accomplished and exuberant celebration of Argentina’s vibrant musical culture.