Fernando Viani

Ginastera: Complete Piano & Organ

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For a composer like Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983), whose piano works were such a significant part of his output, it's fascinating to have the opportunity to trace his development through a chronological survey of his complete music for keyboard. Ginastera destroyed most of his juvenilia, but even his Piezas infantiles, written when he was 18 (and which he withdrew from his catalog, but which are recorded here), show a sure command of form and material. His first published piano work, Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2, reveals a composer who has come into his own, with a distinctive and powerful voice. The movements are based on popular dance forms, but don't use preexisting folk material. They are bursting with rhythmic energy and harmonic abandon and display many of the characteristics of Ginastera's early nationalistic style -- rhythmically driven movements in triple time charged with momentum through the use of hemiolas and changing meters, alternating with incredibly sensual and languid slow movements. Suite de Danzas Criollas (1946) is perhaps the most striking example of his piano music from this period. It retains the vitality and languor of his earlier works, but exhibits an increasingly technical sophistication -- one of its high points is a lyrical, chromatically luscious canon in 11/8. The First Piano Sonata (1952) is deservedly one of the composer's most popular works. The folk elements are still present, but have been absorbed into a more abstract and complex but still sensuously appealing tonal language. In the 1960s Ginastera began to adopt a more international, modernist style in most of his music, but the Second (1981) and Third (1982) sonatas break no new ground. They are stylistically similar to the First Sonata, and while their material lacks its high dramatic profile, they are attractive pieces. The organ work Variazioni e Toccata sopra "Aurora lucis rutilat" (1980), which is recorded here for the first time, again displays Ginastera's rhythmic vitality and his gift for creating moments of limpid serenity.

Argentinean pianist and organist Fernando Viani plays as though he had this music in his blood. He is fully equipped to handle the music's outrageously virtuosic demands. The way he tears through the fast movements is thrilling, generating the kind of visceral charge the composer must have had in mind, and he is equally effective in bringing out the lyric poetry of the slow movements. Naxos' sound is clean and nicely reverberant in the organ pieces.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Danzas argentinas, 3 pieces for piano, Op. 2
1
1:24 Amazon
2
3:39 Amazon
3
3:07 Amazon
Piezas (3), for piano, Op. 6
4
3:35 Amazon
5
4:16
6
4:10
7
2:44 Amazon
American Preludes (12) for piano, Op. 12
8
0:30 Amazon
9
1:23 Amazon
10
1:23 Amazon
11
1:10 Amazon
12
1:30 Amazon
13
0:45 Amazon
14
0:30 Amazon
15
0:47 Amazon
16
0:54
17
1:50 Amazon
18
0:54 Amazon
19
2:24 Amazon
Creole Dance Suite, for piano, Op. 15
20
1:56 Amazon
21
0:40 Amazon
22
1:32 Amazon
23
2:01 Amazon
24
2:34 Amazon
25
3:11 Amazon
Danzas argentinas para los niños, for piano (unfinished)
26
1:14 Amazon
27
1:16 Amazon
Piezas infantiles, for piano (withdrawn by the composer)
28
0:52 Amazon
29
0:42 Amazon
30
1:25 Amazon
31
1:17 Amazon
32
0:53 Amazon
33
2:32 Amazon
34
0:40 Amazon
35
0:57 Amazon
36
2:35 Amazon
Estancia, ballet, Op. 8
37
1:44 Amazon
38
7:16 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick