Review By Steve Schwartz,Classical Net,June 2012
Panambi reveals traces of Stravinsky’s Firebird, while Estancia transposes Bartók to the Argentine pampas. Ben-Dor leads super-charged performances with the London Symphony, simply one of the great orchestras in the world.
The Suite de Danzas Criollas, originally for piano, appears here in an orchestration by Shimon Cohen. It opens with an expansive, wistful song, with the harp imitating an accompanying guitar. Orchestrator Cohen rises to the challenge here and gets the authentic Ginastera sound.
Review By Robert R. Reilly,Catholic News Agency,July 2011
I close with some summer fun in the outrageously raucous, highly colorful, wildly imaginative music of Alberto Ginastera (1916–1983). Naxos has assembled a selection of music from his two famous ballets, Estancia and Panambi, along with a substantial piece called Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation and Ollantay, an Inca-inspired composition. If Villa-Lobos was Brazil’s Stravinsky of the jungle, Ginastera was Argentina’s Stravinsky of the pampas. The final movement of Estancia, “Malambo,” is deliciously raucous. In between the musical riots, Ginastera writes some gorgeously lyrical music.
Review By Rafael-Juan Poveda Jabonero,Ritmo,May 2011
La uruguaya Gisèle Ben-Dor es una especialista en compositores latinoamericanos, y protagoniza la serie de registros que Naxos viene dedicando a Alberto Ginastera. En este disco se vale del concurso de tres orquestas diferentes: Con la Sinfónica de Londres aborda las suites extraídas de los ballets Estancia y Panambí, con la Sinfónica de Jerusalén la Suite de Danzas Criollas, y con la Orquesta Nacional de la BBC de Gales Ollantay y Popol Vuh: La Creación Maya. Todas ellas son obras en las que se combinan elementos musicales nativos con la herencia musical occidental, dando lugar a ese peculiar estilo del compositor argentino. Las interpretaciones de Ben-Dor son excelentes en todo momento, y
Review By David Hurwitz,ClassicsToday.com,April 2011
Here’s a terrific Ginastera collection. The Estancia and Panambi suites are drawn from Ben-Dor’s complete recording, also now on Naxos, and they are somewhat different from the composer’s own. So if you don’t have the complete versions but do have other recordings of these two suites, you really aren’t duplicating by getting this disc as well. The remaining works are all equally well-played, with the Suite de Danzas Criollas being very idiomatically orchestrated by Shimon Cohen. This performance of Popul Vuh may not be quite as savage as Slatkin’s premiere recording on RCA, but that was far less interestingly coupled, and it’s difficult to take issue with any particular aspect of the performance generally. In this context the music seems all
Review By Laima,WRUV Reviews,March 2011
Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera (1916–1983) celebrates Latin American and Argentine music and stories in a selection of works that cover his lifespan. Vigorous.
Review By Lynn René Bayley ,Fanfare,January 2011
Gisèle Ben-Dor’s Ginastera series continues with this collection of ballets or intended ballets. The five works presented here span the entire length of Ginastera’s career, though four of the five are early works written between 1937 and 1946, with Popul Vuh being the last he would live to complete. All five pieces are drawn from Argentine, Mexican, and other South American subjects, which ties them together by theme if not necessarily by national style.
Review By Phillip Scott ,Fanfare,January 2011
To the best of my knowledge, this is the second recording of Ginastera’s final and unfinished orchestral essay, Popol Vuh: The Mayan Creation, op. 44, originally commissioned by Eugene Ormandy for his Philadelphia Orchestra. The composer worked on it piecemeal over the last eight years of his life, leaving eight of its proposed nine sections complete and fully orchestrated when he died. Unfortunately, the unwritten ninth section was to represent the end of the process of the world’s creation, as outlined in ancient Mayan mythology. (The mythological tale was recorded by an unknown Dominican missionary in the 1550s. That text, the Popol Vuh or Council Book, is now the most detailed source material we have concerning the Mayan civilization.) Nevertheless, the eight extant
I do not have Slatkin’s disc at hand for comparison, but Gisèle Ben-Dor and the well-regarded BBC Orchestra of Wales give a tremendous performance in this new recording. As you might imagine, there is a certain amount of subterranean brooding in the early sections (such as the first movement, “The Everlasting Night”), broken by shattering fortissimo explosions of sound and energy. The second and third movements, titled “The Birth of the Earth” and “Nature Awakes” respectively, recall earlier musical depictions of prehistoric activity, most notably Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Max Steiner’s score for the 1933 movie King Kong. When human beings appear in the form of native Indians, from the sixth movement on (“The Magic Ceremony of Indian Corn”), the composer revisits his early ballet music, employing accented dance rhythms. The final movement, “The Dawn of Humankind,” is a brass chorale surrounded by swirling woodwind figuration. While not very long, it is decisive enough to act as an appropriate conclusion, so the work does not feel incomplete. Ginastera’s orchestral imagination and expertise are evident throughout, and the textures are superbly captured in the vivid Naxos recording.
The symphonic triptych Ollantay (1946) is a precursor to the later work, inspired by Inca mythology. Opening with diatonic fanfares, the music builds to a vigorous war dance before reaching a peaceful conclusion. Like the other works on this disc, it is written in the composer’s nationalistic style: strongly rhythmic in the fast moments, coolly impressionistic elsewhere.
The two ballet scores that made Ginastera’s reputation were Panambí and Estancia, both set around the plains of Argentina. The orchestral suites Ginastera subtracted from these scores are well known and, in the case of Estancia, oft-recorded. However, that is not what we have here. Ben-Dor and the London Symphony Orchestra made a recording more....
Review By Ballet Review,December 2010
Still Argentina’s most famous classical composer, Ginastera is best remembered for his early ballets, Estancia, which was recently used by Christopher Wheeldon, and Panambí. Ben-Dor, who has championed Ginastera’s music, is heard here in suites from her fine complete recordings of both ballets (also on Naxos and needing no further comment), two late works, and an orchestrated piano work. more....
Review By Roger Hecht,American Record Guide,November 2010
Only in Ben-Dor’s recording do I really get the idea that Ginastera had primeval images in mind. Criollas is well worth having, and her Ollantay is nice enough…
To read complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.
Review By MusicWeb International,September 2010
Originally composed for piano and first performed by Rudolf Firkusny in Buenos Aires in 1947, the Suite de Danzas Criollas Op.15 is heard here in an orchestration by Shimon Cohen made at the request of Gisèle Ben-Dor. Cohen did a fine job...Although it has been recorded before the symphonic triptych Ollantay Op.17 is still too little known, unjustly so, I think; this is one of Ginastera’s most appealing works. It is based on the myth of Ollantay, son of the Earth, who opposes Inca, son of the Sun. The latter declares war on Ollantay who resists for a long time in his fortress but is eventually killed. The first panel Paisaje de Ollantaytambo (“The Ollantaytambo Landscape”) is a beautiful, though troubled nocturne. There follows Los (“The Warriors”), a powerful war dance. The triptych ends with La Muerte de Ollantay in which Ollantay forecasts the destruction of the Empire and the disappearance of the Sons of the Sun.
Popol Vuh Op.44—Ginastera’s last major orchestral work—was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra who had just first performed his large-scale choral orchestral Turbae ad Passionem Gregorianam Op.43. Ginastera started sketching the piece almost immediately but for whatever reasons laid his sketches aside resuming work in 1982. The bulk of it was thus completed some time before the composer’s death but was actually left unfinished at the time of Ginastera’s death. When Ormandy died in 1985 the score was all but forgotten till the pianist Barbara Nissman drew Leonard Slatkin’s attention to it. Both deemed it perfectly performable as such so that Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra gave the first performance in 1989 and recorded it soon afterwards on RCA (possibly still available). The Popol Vuh or Council Book contains the mythological Mayan narrative of creation. The various movements of the work thus trace the creation of the world according to the Mayas from the original chaos to the birth of man, subject of the missing final movement that should have been scored for percussion only. It is perfectly viable as it stands. The music is vintage Ginastera with its mix of primal brutality and of more reflective or atmospheric stances.
The opening movement La Noche de los Tiempos grows from the depths of the orchestra with dark growling from bass instruments. The impression of inchoate chaos is maintained throughout except for a short violent outburst when the Divine Council decides to create the world. The following movements El Nacimiento de la Tierra (“The Birth of the Earth”) and El Despertar de la Naturaleza (“The Awakening of Nature”) evoke the process of creation, at first from simple beginnings. These progressively become engulfed in more dynamic elements, the whole leading into the short violent El Gritto de la Creación (“The Cry of the Creation”). But the gods are not satisfied wmore....
Review By Stephen Eddins,Allmusic.com,June 2010
Naxos’ 2010 collection of orchestral works by Alberto Ginastera conducted by Uruguayan-born Gisèle Ben-Dor includes both music from previous recordings and performances released here for the first time. Ben-Dor’s recording of the complete ballets Panambí and Estancia (the latter a world premiere recording) was first released on Conifer in 1999 and reissued on Naxos in 2006. Suites from the ballets are among the composer’s most popular and frequently performed works, but these “extended suites” are essentially excerpts drawn from the earlier complete recordings and include a substantial amount of music that will be new to most listeners. These versions include music that is frequently more lyrical than the rambunctious dances of the
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