Mena Does Better In Ginastera II

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

There’s no inherent reason why Spanish conductors should excel in the music of Ginastera or other Spanish and Latin American composers, aside from the fact that they may be relatively more familiar with it. After all, just about everyone does Elgar better than the British, right? Volume I in this series was pretty uninteresting, but Volume II is much better, perhaps because we have Chinese pianist Xiayin Wang in the rarely programmed Second Piano Concerto. Like the First, the work comes from the composer’s dodecaphonic period, and it’s just as full of fantasy and invention. The finale offers a gloss on the last movement of Chopin’s Second Piano Sonata, itself almost dodecaphonic, and under Wang’s fingers both the reference as well as Ginastera’s own characteristic energy project vibrantly. Indeed, the entire work sounds especially convincing in this performance, from the opening variations onwards.

Like its companion ballet Estancia, Panambi is best known from the brief suite that Ginastera extracted from it, but the complete work makes a more positive impression than Estancia does when played whole. It’s a remarkable Opus 1, nicely primal in atmosphere, and featuring some amazing textures that actually foreshadow the composer’s later work. While it does contain a few lapses in continuity, its thirty-seven minutes pass quickly. This performance strikes me as more alert and compelling than those on the previous release in the series, perhaps because the music itself is more percussive, less folksy and overtly melodic, and so easier to put across, but I don’t want to take any credit away from Mena and the BBC Philharmonic. They do the composer proud. A fine release.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

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