Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s music is neatly divided into three styles: nationalist folk (or Gaucho); ‘subjective’ nationalism influenced by Stravinsky, and Neoexpressionism, which is infused with Serialism. His vocal pieces reflect those phases.

Uruguayan Gisèle Ben-Dor conducts the Santa Barbara Symphony with superb vocalists. Ginastera’s five popular Agentinian songs are here sung delightfully by Puerto Rican soprano Ana Marìa Martìnez. They have a touch of Cantaloube’s Songs of the Auvergne about them, especially the much-loved lullaby Arroro which Ben-Dor, like most South American mothers, sang to her children.

Argentinian diva Virginia Tola features in the other two works on this disc. She’s alongside Plácido Domingo for two excerpts from Ginastera’s opera Don Rodrigo. Domingo reprises his role from his 1960s hit at New York City Opera, which was overseen by the composer. Challenging for both singer and listener, Domingo’s radiance and energy here seem undimmed by age. Listen out for The Miracle scene when all the bells of Spain ring out unaided by human intervention in a serialism-meets-Mussorgsky showstopper. 

Tola makes superb work of the cantata Milena, based on Franz Kafka’s letters to his lover. This is an interesting tribute to the composer, beautifully produced and vibrantly performed by all.

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