Alberto Ginastera, who lived until 1983, is now recognized as one of the most important Argentine composers, along with Astor Piazzolla. Suites from his two ballets have been concert favorites for many years, but this is the world premiere recording of both of his ballets in their entirety. Some of Ginastera’s works are in a more atonal style, but these two ballets abound in exotic melody often based on Argentine folk music and popular elements.
Panambi is based on a supernatural legend of the Guarani Indians of northern Argentina. It has a sorcerer, water sprites, warriors and various native festival dances. Some of Ginastera’s main influences can be heard in the score: Falla, Stravinsky, Debussy and Bartok. The score intersperses exciting and dynamic dances with percussion with more reflective and impressionistic music.
Estancia deals with the spirit of the Argentine gauchos on the vast pampas. The contrast between the urban dwellers and the people of the pampas is a major element in the scenario of the ballet. It celebrates the various aspects of the activities of a ranch during a typical day. Lines from poet Martin Fierro preface some of the depictions of a gaucho’s day on the pampas; these are read and sung by Luis Gaeta. The gaucho’s solitude is one of the recurring themes. The final dance of the ballet is the highly repetitious and rhythmic Malambo. (Frankly, I could do without the narration – for which no translation is provided.)
I did an A/B comparison of this new release with the classic Sir Eugene Goossens and the London Symphony versions of the two suites on an Everest/Vanguard three-channel SACD. While that 1974 reissue still holds the edge in the violence quotient for the concluding Malambo, the overall fidelity of the Naxos standard CD is in some ways even superior to the SACD. It also decodes beautifully to surround via ProLogic II, and one gets the entire scores of both ballets for the first time, and at bargain cost.
– John Sunier