Oberlin Music Release Celebrates Composer Alberto Ginastera

October 10, 2016
Erich Burnett
harp professor Yolanda Kondonassis
Photo credit: Laura Watilo Blake

Throughout his career, Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera artfully incorporated the folk music and dance forms of his native land into increasingly modernist creations. From the populist to the avant-garde, Ginastera’s work was devised using an architectural approach that labeled each piece as uniquely his own.

Marking the centennial anniversary of Ginastera’s birth, Ginastera: One Hundred, a new recording on the Oberlin Music label, pays tribute to the composer and serves as a musical thank-you from internationally celebrated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, whose career has been powerfully influenced by Ginastera.

“I have always felt that Alberto Ginastera has been somewhat undercelebrated, so I hope this project shines a bright light on his contributions,” says Kondonassis, a member of Oberlin’s faculty for nearly 20 years. “By any measure, his work is striking, idiomatic, colorful, and gorgeously constructed. His compositions are undeniably contemporary, but they present both a logic and a passion that speak to performers and audiences in a meaningful way.

“That said, I must admit my own bias, because he wrote the great 20th-century harp concerto,” Kondonassis adds, noting that she has played the piece some 200 times, with each performance revealing new revelations amid its twists and turns.

That piece—Harp Concerto, Op. 25—leads the way on Ginastera: One Hundred, featuring the Oberlin Orchestra under the direction of Raphael Jiménez, Oberlin’s director of conducting and ensembles. The recording also features the artistry of three world-renowned musicians, all of them dear friends of Kondonassis: violinist Gil Shaham, pianist Orli Shaham, and guitarist Jason Vieaux.

The recording continues with Pampeana No. 1, which bears the influence of Aaron Copland, with whom Ginastera had been studying at the time; and Sonata for Guitar, his sole work for the national instrument of his homeland. Completing the collection is Danzas Argentinas, with its themes evoking Argentine history and customs juxtaposed with modernist structures—a piece that catapulted Ginastera to prominence in Argentina.

Distributed by Naxos of America, Ginastera: One Hundred is available through select retailers and digital music channels worldwide. Oberlin Music is the official label of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Other recent Oberlin Music titles include Wordless Verses by the Jackson Trio, What Think You I Take My Pen in Hand to Record? by tenor Salvatore Champagne and pianist Howard Lubin, and Dvořák | Shostakovich | Tower by the Oberlin Trio.

Learn more at oberlin.edu/oberlinmusic.

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