Re-thinking Ginastera

  the chameleonic Alberto Ginastera

the chameleonic Alberto Ginastera

Tomorrow I am performing, with my great friends, the phenomenal Brentano Quartet, a rarely-heard piano quintet by the Argentine master Alberto Ginastera. Written in 1963, it is largely a dodecaphonic work, shockingly discordant to an ear more familiar with the famous works of his nationalist period, such as the First Piano Sonata, the Variaciones concertantes, the Danzas Argentinas, or the Harp Concerto.  What binds both styles together seems to be a singular rhythmic vitality, evident here in the complex cross-rhythms of the 1st and 5th movements, as also in the driving ostinatos of the 3rd and 7th.  Composers can get away with a great deal of acerbity as long as they keep their audience fully engaged.  In this, Ginastera rarely fails.