Arts Blog

Ginastera turns 100 (Yolanda Kondonassis and the Harp Concerto)

“Beauty is the emergence of a spiritual climate in which each artist is transfigured through the impulse of creation. It becomes universal” – Alberto Ginastera

Last year, American harpist Yolanda Kondonassis brought Alberto Ginastera’s Harp Concerto, Opus 25 to Portland, when she performed it with the Oregon Symphony. Recently, as part of the centennial of the composer’s birth, Kondonassis releases “Ginastera: One Hundred”, with musicians of the Oberlin Conservatory, where she teaches. The harpist tells me in our conversation, that she has performed this work over 200 times, and each time she hears some new texture. Ginastera drew inspiration from Argentina’s gaucho community – the cowboys of the lowlands – whose distinctive chord is a signature that appears in many of his works. Listening to this exciting, lyrical concerto, the signature appears in many guises.

Ms. Kondonassis doesn’t make this a “Yolanda and friends” CD, where she is always present; rather, this is a disc that showcases a wide range of Ginastera’s output, many of them works written before the Harp Concerto (of 1956). Pampeana (1947) challenges while it rewards, as Gil and Orli Shaham play the violin and piano work. Kondonassis’ good friend (and partner on their 2015 CD, “Together”) plays the extraordinarily vivid Sonata for Guitar, Opus 47 (1976). Rounding out the disc, Orli Shaham reappears to play the solo piano piece, Danzas Argentinas (1937), which seems to evoke the gaucho lifestyle even more than the guitar sonata.

If you already know Ginastera’s music, I think that you’ll find these new performances pay great tribute, and bring tremendous life, to an important figure of the second half of the 20th century. If his music is new to you, I hope that you’ll enjoy the journey that Yolanda Kondonassis and her Oberlin colleagues take through the landscape of Ginastera’s unique sounds.

Ginastera: One Hundred
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