COMPOSERS: Alberto Ginastera
ALBUM TITLE: Ginastera
WORKS: Pampeana No. 3, Op. 24; Ollantay, Op. 17; Estancia, Op. 8
PERFORMER: Lucas Somoza Osterc (baritone); BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena
CATALOGUE NO: Chandos CHAN 10884
Chandos’s new series marking the centenary (on 11 April) of the birth of the Argentinean Alberto Ginastera is timely. Can there be any other 20th-century composer of this quality who’s so neglected? Admittedly, the lively Suite from his 1941 ballet Estancia does get an occasional hearing; but here we have the whole ballet, complete not only with more dances in the same energetic vein but also with a narration setting the scene on a ranch on the pampas, two melancholy songs and a lovely lyrical pas de deux called ‘Twilight Idyll’. And there’s some even finer music, reconciling Ginastera’s nationalist ambitions with an informed awareness of mainstream composers such as Stravinsky and Bartók, in two later pieces: Ollontay (1947), ‘three symphonic movements’ inspired by pre-Colombian mythology; and Pampeana No. 3 (1954), a ‘symphonic pastorale’ returning to the pampas in more reflective mood.
The BBC Philharmonic is in cracking form at the moment, as witness its recent Copland disc with John Wilson, and in Juanjo Mena it has a chief conductor capable of leading it through the dance rhythms and moods of the Spanish-speaking world with gusto and understanding. There’s an equally sensitive contribution from the Argentinean baritone Lucas Somoza Osterc. And the orchestra’s in-house production team by now knows how to get the best out of its home studio in Salford. Altogether, this is a thoroughly enjoyable start to what should be a significant series.