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In No 1 the soloist hurtles straight into the limelight, and Dora De Marinis is at once mistress of the situation, as the music quietens to an atmospheric set of variations. It is the second movement, though, that finds Ginastera padding through spectral sounds in a Scherzo allucinante that explores the most remote and etiolated noises [listen -- track 2, 1:40-2:39]. In total contrast with this is the Toccata concertata that ends the work. Here Ginastera exploits a vein that had proved richly rewarding in the past. The pounding virtuoso piece is an example of the inspiration that Ginastera got from the malambo, an Argentinian exhibition of increasingly frenetic dance steps. A South American gaucho is an expert horseman, but here he has leapt to the ground and challenged a rival to equal or defeat him in ever more energetic and virile stamping movements. The malambo has its basic rhythm on which Ginastera imposes intricate patterns of his own to make a movement of galvanising power [listen -- track 4, 0:00-0:58].

Beethoven is invoked at the start of the second Concerto, with a set of 32 variations. Beethoven himself had written such a set on an original theme in C minor. Ginastera's aim is quite different. His variations are based on a Beethoven chord to be found in the finale of Symphony No 9. It is that highly dissonant chord in bar 208 that urges the baritone to enter and say, 'Friends, not such sounds'. Ginastera takes no notice of the baritone. Instead he supplements the seven notes of Beethoven's chord with five more of his own to make a 12-note row. Ginastera's variations are grouped into five sections, the odd numbers increasingly energetic, the even more calm and contemplative, as in this quiet passage of chamber music texture caressed by a solo violin [listen -- track 5, 9:06-10:00]. The second movement is a Scherzo for the left hand, in which much of the keyboard figuration is at the upper end of the instrument [listen -- track 6, 0:00-1:00]. If in this concerto a succession of chords may be vaguely reminiscent of my efforts at the piano in extreme childhood, the likeness has been entirely refreshing and is, I am sure, coincidental; I only regret that I did not have any accompaniment from the alert and committed Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra or the admirable direction of Julio Malaval.

Copyright © 9 September 2001 Robert Anderson, London, UK







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