Review of LNT106: The Piano Music of Alberto Ginastera
Berigan, American Record Guide
Among young peacock contest players the piano work of Ginastera, most specifically the Sonata 1, has in the past been a target of a good deal of disrespect. This piece was what one played when one would rather be playing a large Prokofieff or the Barber Sonata but was either too young or not at the technical level yet to be able to splash around to the extent required in the deep end of the pool of lyrical piano modernism. Then again, the folk elements and rhythmic sauciness of Ginastera's musical language could make him in a sense a Latin cousin to Aram Khachaturian, with the corresponding nosedive in intellectual respectability.
But for the most part, this is music of immediate communication, and for that attribute alone deserves to be played, heard, and savored. This disc of Ginastera's piano music runs the gamut from miniature to monster, early work to final statement. Alma Petchersky presents these pieces compellingly and straightforwardly, with her rhythmic integrity in the various dance and motor elements allowing this music to really bite, snap, and bounce. She avoids the impulse to squander any gesture on the altar of cheap effect, and her reading of that infamous Sonata 1 is rich, sonorous, and satisfying. I don't find the later sonatas as interesting, crippled as they are by severe overtones of Bartok and Stravinsky. But no matter the composer who could write music of the sophisticated simplicity and clarity of the Suite de Danzas Criollas could be forgiven many things. This is a highly entertaining and beautiful piece, and Petchersky plays it with great poetry and charm. Petchersky's biographical notes mention studies with a variety of master teachers, including Maria Curcio, Bruno Seidlhofer, and that priestess of touch, Magda Tagliaferro. A master's concern for sound and rhythmic sophistication is very much an aspect of Petchersky's playing and is reproduced very well on the recording itself.