"...one of the last pianists in the grand romantic tradition of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Rubinstein"
Aaron Copland with Ginastera
THREE PIANO CONCERTOS BY GINASTERA
DECEMBER 10, 2011
In 1935 at the age of nineteen while still a student a Conservatory, Alberto Ginastera composed the Concierto Argentino and dedicated it to his good friend, the pianist Hugh Balzo. Balzo premiered the concerto and then the composer withdrew the work from publication. Barbara Nissman discovered the manuscript at the Fleisher Manuscript Collection in Philadelphia. In the 1940’s, Nicolas Slonimsky had traveled to South America in search of Latin American music. His trip was sponsored by the WPA, and that is how the parts landed in the Fleisher
Manuscript Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Later in his life, Ginastera reviewed the manuscript and told his wife that he was planning to revise the work. Unfortunately, he died before his intentions were realized.
Written six years before his popular ballet Estancia appeared in 1941, Ginastera introduces in the middle movement and also in the finale of this three-movement concerto, two of its popular themes, both played by the orchestra. Always a recycler, the composer gives us a taste of what lies ahead in Estancia. All of the elements of
Ginastera’s early style heard in Panambi, Op.1; Three Argentine Danzas, Op. 2; Suite des Danzas Criollas, Op. 15 etc., are already hinted at in this accessible work: the rhythmic and driving energy, the Latin dance tunes, the sentimental romantic melodies, and sheer pianistic bravura for its own sake.
The first movement includes a cadenza whose piano writing could have been inspired by some of the right-hand passage-work in the cadenza of Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto. The second movement is a beautiful and languid dance, including an introduction, reminiscent of Gershwin’s opening to his Rhapsody in Blue. The third movement, an Allegro rustico is signature Ginastera. This is music of the pampas, the Argentine countryside, and Ginastera conveys the passion of the people who sing the folk tunes and who dance the virile, extroverted malambo. There is an energy and force within the music, driving it right towards the final note of this youthful, joyful and exciting composition.
Even though this is a somewhat naïve work of Ginastera’s youth, the Concierto Argentino has a definite appeal and foretells what will follow. Seen in the historical context of Ginastera’s music, his early style planted the necessary seeds that would be developed into his later more sophisticated language. Ginastera always possessed the natural gift of creating magic within his sound canvases, and even in this young student composition, Ginastera transports the listener to another world--to a magical place.