Danzas Argentinas

Claudia Schellenberger

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Danzas Argentinas Review

by James Manheim

A quick look at the tracklist for this German release shows that, except for the Alberto Ginastera work with that title, it doesn't consist of "danzas argentinas" at all. The notes correct the record with the statement that pianist Claudia Schellenberger "strikes the chords of different North and South American regions," although only Louis Moreau Gottschalk is North American, and his idiom is more aligned with the Caribbean than with the U.S. Furthermore, although the Danzas Argentinas of Ginastera certainly fit under the regionalist umbrella, the Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22, is a more problematical case. It's less accurate to describe Ginastera as a composer who experienced "tension" between Latin American materials and European modernism, as annotator Verena Krauledat does in her notes (in German and English), than to say he rejected the regionalism of the early Danzas in favor of a modernist idiom. So little other than New World origins really links these pieces together, and there's not a lot to recommend the individual parts, either. Schellenberger lacks the melodrama that was, from all accounts, integral to Gottschalk's performing style, and her renditions of the African-American rhythms that flavor all three of the Gottschalk compositions are rote. The lyricism of Ernesto Lecuona, the so-called Cuban Gershwin, is only intermittently allowed to flower. Schellenberger seems most at home in the Bartókian works of Ginastera, which are standards for upper-level student pianists. But both separately and together the music on the program has been done more distinctively elsewhere.

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