Gisele Ben-Dor, GINASTERA: Panambi / Estancia (Complete Ballets)

Brian Wise

By Brian Wise

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A ballet score of exhilarating folk rhythms and an almost hallucinatory atmosphere.

Alberto Ginastera was Argentina's best-known composer; late in life he became a cult figure, admired by both Aaron Copland and prog-rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Ginastera's music is often charged with exhilarating folk rhythms and an almost hallucinatory atmosphere, as in his 1937 ballet “Panambí.” Based on a supernatural legend from the Guaraní Indians, from northern Argentina, the score is stark, vivid and forceful. Another folk-infused ballet score from the same period, “Estancia” depicts life on a cattle ranch on the grassy Argentine pampas, and the threat of advancing urbanization. Ginastera based this score on the great epic poem “Martín Fierro” by José Hernández and he captures its earthy imagery with malambo rhythms and guitar-like sounds. Uruguayan-American conductor Gisele Ben-Dor takes the option of having a narrator recite verses from Hernández's poem to link the various parts of the ballet, as is common in Argentine performances.