COMPLETE PIANO WORKS
Danzas argentinas Op. 2 (1937)
Tres Piezas Op. 6 (1940)
Piezas Infantiles (1942)
Doce Preludios Americanos Op. 12 (1944)
Suite de Danzas Crillas Op. 15 (1946)
Rondo sobre temas infantiles argentinos Op. 19 (1947)
Sonata No. 1 Op. 22 (1952)
Sonata No. 2 Op. 53 (1981)
Sonata No. 3 Op. 55 (1982)
Tichiko Tsuda (Piano)
Recorded February 2000 Studio de la Foundation Tibor Varga, Switzerland
CYPRÈS CYP 1625
The first thing to say is that it seems that these pieces on this generously
filled CD do not in fact constitute the composer's complete piano music.
ASV who have reached Volume 5 of Ginastera's Chamber works have scattered
the piano music onto three contrasting CDs. Alberto Portugheis on DCA 880
also includes 'Malambo' Op. 7, Milonga and an early un-opused Toccata. This
Cyprès recording, weighing in at over eighty minutes, could not be
more generous in length but if you are a 'completist' then beware.
Alberto Ginastera was Argentina's leading and best-known composer, however
he was not prolific and composed slowly. The recent arrival on the scene
of the considerably more prolific Astor Piazzola (ironically not famous in
Europe until after his death 1993) has rather altered the position, however
Ginastera is a consistently serious and mostly challenging composer both
harmonically and formally. These works take us across a career of about
forty-five years, but they have in common a love of rhythmic energy. If you
know the famous Piano Concerto then you know what I mean. Right from the
first piece the 'Danza del viejo boyero' op 2 no1 you will find these
characteristics. The other side of his style is the romantic quasi-nationalist
one, as in the Op. 6 no 2 , Nortena.
The 1st sonata is the longest work as contains another characteristic,
the light rather insectile presto as in movement 2 and also in the piano
concert movement 2 - impressionist and crepuscular.
You can gain a real feel for Ginastera's style by starting with the Op. 12
'Preludios Americanos'. These demonstrate that he could be a highly
successful miniaturist with none of the 12 pieces lasting any longer than
the last, which is just over 2 minutes. Each is complete in itself and yet
the whole makes up a kind of sonata. They embrace an oriental pentatonic
style (number 5) the repetitive strumming of massed guitars (number 6) a
homage to Copland (number 9) and one to Villa-Lobos (11) and a strident anguished
gypsy song pounded out in octaves ( 7)
The 3rd sonata is a work, which I could quite happily not hear too
often. At just over five minutes and in a single movement, the mood is
unremittingly dissonant and fast. It was the composer's last work performed
just a few months before his death and I wonder if he intended to add a
contrasting section to it. Perhaps it would have been better for Ginastera
to have ended his career with the 2nd Sonata written only a year earlier.
It too contains some hard hitting rhythmic sections, as in the 3rd movement
marked Ostinato aymura, but it also contains that insectile style I mentioned
in the section at the centre of movement 2 marked Scorrevole - scurrying.
This also has a beautiful, rather valedictory, slow movement. The Sonata
No 1 likewise ends in a typically exciting Ostinato allegro.
Michiko Tsuda is a virtuoso who is completely on top of the music. I have
previously only come across her in early romantic repertoire, Schumann etc.
She plays superbly and has a comprehensive grasp of the language. The recording
is generally very good, but the piano sound can be rather harsh and intimidating
although very immediate. It may be that which puts me off in the 3rd Sonata.