Ginastera: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Ginastera
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2
PERFORMER: Dora De Marinis (piano); Slovak RSO/Julio Malaval
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555283
Two different worlds are opened up by these discs. Granted, echoes of Estancia’s pounding, pulsating rhythms can be heard in the piano concertos (especially the First) just as the nocturnal atmosphere of the slow movement of No. 1 distantly recalls ideas from Panambi and the Harp Concerto. But while the Ginastera of those two last-mentioned works draws deeply on his Latin American experiences, the piano concertos sound like a deliberate effort to align his thinking with postwar European models – especially the Bergian use of 12-note techniques. Both concertos feel gritty and severe, despite the flashes of weird magic, after the passionate, mesmerising, vividly coloured sound-worlds opened up by the ballet suites and the Harp Concerto. For the majority of listeners, the Naïve disc is probably going to be the more immediately attractive. Even when Ginastera invokes Sixties modernist techniques, as in the Glosses sobre temes de Pau Casals, the vivid Spanish popular flavour of Casals’s themes persists. It also has the advantage of the more assured and appealing performances; Dora De Marinis (Naxos) is a strong and very capable pianist, but the orchestral support is variable: it can be enthusiastic, but the viola solo which opens the First Piano Concerto’s slow movement falls a long way short of ‘spine-chilling’ – as the booklet note describes it. And while the Naïve recordings are fresh and clear, the Naxos sound is a tad over-reverberant. As for the cover: harpist Isabelle Moretti caressing a grossly enlarged floral butterfly – Naïve just about says it all. Stephen Johnson

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