Latin American blend
MALCOLM MILLER applauds Alberto Portugheis in recital
The riveting rhythms of Latin American folk dances and songs by Alberto
Ginastera, one of Argentina's most original twentieth century composers,
transformed the Regent Hall, Oxford Street, in central London, into an invigorating
oasis of vibrant colour and light, at an enthusiastically received lunchtime
recital given by the distinguished pianist Alberto Portugheis.
Presented by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and the Iberian and
Latin American Music Society on Friday 20 December 2002, the recital began
with Rameau's Gavotte Variée followed by elegant, and
expressive interpretations of Beethoven's Three 'Viennese' Sonatinas.
There was especial crystalline articulation and beautifully supple phrasing
in the second Sonatina in G, while the bristling momentum of the third sonata
reminded one of the charming character of these miniatures, familiar to
students yet often overlooked in recital.
The highlight of the concert was the inspirited performance of music
by Alberto Ginastera, a composer with whom Portugheis, also from Argentina,
has a particular affinity, having recorded the integral piano works on CD.
In the Rondo on Argentine Folk Tunes Op 19, a transformation rather
than transcription of authentic folk material, Ginastera's rich harmonies
and range of pianistic sonorities are quite ravishing, with rapid repeated
notes and chords, and evocative added note chromaticism that add lustre
to the buoyant tunes. In Portugheis's hands the music overflowed with vitality,
its myriad of colours, rhythmic lilt and syncopated energy radiating a Latin
American blend of joy and longing.
Alberto Portugheis. Photo: Keith Bramich
His interpretations of the Danzas Argentinas Op 2 were equally
dazzling, highlighting Ginastera's genius for assimilating folk influences
into entirely original compositions. The 'Danza del Viejo Boyero'
with its scintillating repeated chord passages, contrasted starkly with
the slinky, sinewy tango-like melody of the 'Danza de la Moza Donos'
which Alberto Portugheis injected with palpable emotion, its poignant cantabile
melody suspended over a delicately-etched bass. The final 'Danza
del Gaucho Matrero' evolved from inward stealth to bright ebullience,
in the climatic restatements of the appealing main theme, an instance of
Ginastera's subtle yet fully accessible style.
The concert concluded with the eloquent Chopin Nocturne in F sharp
Op 15 No 2, with some breathtaking pianissimo colouring, and a powerful
account of the Polonaise in A flat Op 53, which, like the fleet-fingered
encore, Chopin's famous 'black-note study', displayed virtuosity
and panache, qualities much in evidence in Portugheis's extensive discography.
Long after the concert had ended, the wistful poetry and magnetic energy
of Portugheis's Ginastera, in particular, lingered deliciously in the memory.
Copyright © 31 December 2002
Malcolm Miller, London, UK
ANOTHER MALCOLM MILLER PORTUGHEIS REVIEW
THE IBERIAN AND LATIN AMERICAN MUSIC SOCIETY
THE BEETHOVEN PIANO SOCIETY OF EUROPE