Reviews: Ginastera: Popol Vuh, Cantata para América Mágica - Asbury
|Review by Lute June 29, 2013 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
|I was looking for some of NEOS's Maderna SACDs when I came across this one.
"Popol Vuh", a kind of Mayan "Rite of Spring", shows the influence of Stravinsky, Bartok and Prokofiev... , but Alberto Ginastera has created his own unique & exotic world. It's amazing what sounds he was able to get out of an orchestra consisting of triple woodwind, quadruple brass, two sets of timpani, four percussionists playing fifty instruments, two harps, a piano, and a large string orchestra. Far from being ostentatious, all of these instruments come together naturally to give life to an organic and powerful piece of music. Having survived the end of the Mayan calendar cycle (last December), perhaps now is suitable time for us to hear "The Creation of the Mayan World".
The Cantata para America Magica (written for his first wife Mercedes de Toro) is more abstract & atmospheric, but no less appealing. It is based on de Toro's poems which were inspired by pre-Columbian texts. This piece is for soprano and percussion orchestra. Once again, Ginastera uses an unusal ensemble of percussion instruments and some indigenous ones from Central & South America. All of these various sounds are captured vividly by NEOS's excellent recording...and the surround speakers are used even more effectively in this piece than in Popol Vuh. (Although some listeners might have an issue with this being a 24/48 recording, it has been well engineered and recreates a most realistic 3 dimensional soundstage IMHO.)
The WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, conducted by Stefan Asbury, give a solid performance. And the Canadian soprano Rayanne Dupuis handles the "dramatic soprano" part of the cantata very well. The Bugallo-Williams piano duo, Ensemble S, and Schlagzeugensemble der Musikhochshule Koln also contribute fine playing. All in all, a dramatic and exciting SACD.
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