GISÈLE BEN-DOR , conductor

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Radio Klassik Stephansdom

CD of the week

Alberto Ginastera was born 100 years ago in Buenos Aires, on April 11, 1916. The conductor Gisèle Ben-Dor spent 15 years on the realization of the "The Vocal Album" project. She asked composer Shimon Cohen to orchestrate Ginastera's "Canciones Populares Argentinas" and also brought Plácido Domingo on board, who famously started his world career in 1966 with his unforgettable title role performance in Ginastera's opera "Don Rodrigo" in New York. Ursula Magnes treated herself to the wide spectrum of Ginastera's music.

The compilation of the CD is wisely chosen. The listener is immediately taken by Ginastera's popular folkloric and Argentine songs.  Particularly since this is the first time they have been performed by an orchestra. Puerto Rican singer Ana Maria Martínez shapes these energetic true-to-life songs in a fluent and natural fashion.

As Plácido Domingo impressively demonstrates, Ginastera was also capable of creating a very different mood reminiscent of Alban Berg's "Wozzeck". Five years ago he went to a Los Angeles studio to resurrect and build on his 1966 breakthrough. This was his heart's desire. The orchestral accompaniment by the Santa Barbara Symphony is intense and gripping.

With the cantata "Milena", the text arranged by Ginastera himself from letters of Franz Kafka to Milena Jesenská, we get yet to experience a completely different side of Ginastera. To achieve this high degree of expressiveness, Ginastera crawls into Kafka's angst-ridden world, acknowledging that "one can imagine this music accompanying a woman in her loneliness during the last faint twilight of her own life – and of the old social order – as she reads the letters from her deceased lover again and again." A woman, the Argentinean soprano Virginia Tola, takes on Kafka's interior monologue. It is no coincidence that Ginastera invokes the "Leiermann" from Franz Schubert's "Winterreise".

The composer died in 1983 in Geneva. This CD allowed me to discover his music with moments of pleasure, passion, and offered many eye-opening experiences.


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