Mirian Conti Captures Nostalgic Side of Argentinean Piano Music

Monday, June 25, 2012

American concert audiences can easily be led to believe that Argentinean music started and ended with Astor Piazzolla. He did, after all, internationalize that country’s greatest musical export, the tango, elevating it to a more complex form while integrating classical elements. Of course, there’s much more to this country’s musical heritage. Argentinean pianist Mirian Conti, now based in New York, sets out to showcase some of her homeland’s lesser-known composers from the past century on her new album “Nostalgias Argentinas.”

The collection of roughly a dozen pieces for piano leans heavily on composers who have taken up folk and popular styles like the Tango and the Milonga as their musical building blocks. They include Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000), a pianist and composer who had an international career and produced some 500 works, most of which are quite conservative stylistically, but also full of melodic invention and intoxicating harmonies. Conti plays his ten-movement Cantos Populares

Pedro Sáenz, a composer who studied with Honegger and Milhaud in Paris, adapts the tango, Creole walz and milonga forms in his suite Aquel Buenos Aires. A more modern, harmonically adventurous interpretation of folk styles can be heard in Gilardo Gilardi’s four-movement suite Cantares de mi cantar, while Horacio Salgán’s Don Agustín Bardi tango seems especially redolent of Piazzolla’s approach.

The prevailing moods of these and other pieces is of melancholy, longing and nostalgia, even as European influences (Chopin, Prokofiev, Franck) occasionally seep into the folk-based idioms. Conti, who, in addition to her performing career is on the faculty of the Evening Division at the Juilliard School, succinctly explains her intent for the recording in the liner notes: “For me, this recording brings with it nostalgia for my own musical past, for those Argentine composers lost or forgotten on the shelves of libraries, conservatories and old pianos.”

Mirian Conti
Nostalgias Argentinas
Available at Arkivmusic.com

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Comments [6]

Musiclv from 77/2, Shah Ali Bagh, Mirpur Dhaka 1216

Music fans! A great place to find the alternative music you love and discover some new tunes you'll enjoy is this website.

Apr. 01 2013 03:59 AM
Nat Kendrick

Two professors at my college (Susquehanna University) gave a recital of Guastavino vocal and piano duet works. It's always enjoyable to step out of the canon that we become so transfixed on and open our ears to something new.

Jun. 29 2012 11:04 PM
Neil Schnall

In addition to those cited by Mr. Meltzer, Ms. Conti's previous release on the Steinway label is the complete cycle of the mazurkas of Chopin. I don't think a single example of that collection has been aired by WQXR.

Actually, Chopin's mazurkas are, like so much other standard repertoire, given scant attention on this venue. There have been a few here and there, performed by a couple of other artists.

Nevertheless, Ms. Conti's performances are indeed welcome, as are the opportunities offered to hear repertoire that is off the beaten track.

Jun. 27 2012 01:08 PM
Michael Meltzer

Recognition of the extraordinary talent and compelling musical personality of Mirian Conti has been long overdue. Although her performances of Granados are exquisite, her Ginastera stunning and her Turina a profound exploration, one mustn't "type" her, or run the risk of missing out on some excellent Beethoven, Chopin and contemporary Americans. Congratulations, WQXR!

Jun. 25 2012 11:09 PM
Robert from New York City

This is great news. I'm glad to finally be able to listen to these great Argentine composers on WQXR. I have one comment to the article, though. Horacio Salgán was a huge influence on Astor Piazzolla. The maestro, who is now 96 years old, is one of the best pianist in the world, admired by Rubinstein and one of the few Afro-Argentines still alive. In any case we could say that Piazzolla's approach is redolent of Salgán.

Jun. 25 2012 10:47 PM
Nicolás

Muy linda nota. Felicitaciones Mirian! Saludos desde Buenos Aires.

Jun. 25 2012 12:50 AM

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