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.”
Available at Arkivmusic.com