The music of Carlos Guastavino, who was born in 1912 and was still alive when this little disc was released in 1996 (he died in 2000), was much loved in his home country of Argentina, unlike Alberto Ginastera, whose relationship with Argentine listeners ranged from combative to disastrous. Primarily a song composer, Guastavino has enjoyed a modest revival outside Argentina thanks to the popularity of Astor Piazzolla; his songs offer any number of pleasant romantic items that can fit into various kinds of Latin American programs. There are tango-like rhythms in some of his songs, but he's not really a proto-Piazzolla, rather, a Romantic nationalist whose relationship to folk music is roughly that of Dvorák but whose writing for voice and piano has a quiet subtlety that brings Fauré to mind even if the frameworks are simpler. This recording, by a fine Argentine baritone who obviously admired Guastavino, has an impressive warmth and intimacy that bear comparison with Fischer-Dieskau's Schubert songs. Although you can imagine performances that place greater weight on the folk rhythms in Guastavino's music, the more delicate approach here is probably preferable inasmuch as it's important not to perform this music with the example of Piazzolla in mind. The final large set of Flores argentinas (Argentine Flowers) is among Guastavino's best-known works, but try as well the little Quatro canciones argentinas (tracks 9-12), on anonymous texts, for a truly entrancing set of limpid folkish miniatures.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Canciones argentinas (4), for voice & piano|
|Flores argentinas (12), song cycle for voice & piano|