Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mirian Conti shines in Nostalgias Argentinas

Nostalgias Argentinas
Mirian Conti, piano
Steinway & Sons

Argentine-American pianist Mirian Conti has long championed the music of South America, recording a cycle of Villa-Lobos piano concertos, a collection of Spanish composers and one ofArgentine composers. Her new release, Nostalgias Argentines focuses on Argentine composers of the 1920's, many of whom are little-known to American listeners.

Conti may well change that with this recording. The piano works all have the flavor of South America, mixed with a European post-romantic aesthetic. The result is an attractive blend of lush harmonies and strong rhythmic pulses. Several of the works are based on traditional Argentine music, such as the Danzas tradicionales of Remo Pignoni.

Carlos Guastavino also uses folk melodies as the basis for a set of imaginative piano minatures in his Caontos populares.

Mirian Conti does an excellent job with this material. Technically challenging works are performed with seeming ease. The balance between classical and folk elements never waivers -- at no time does the music sound like a pastiche of Argentine folk music. Conti makes the music bounce, without being a slave to the beat. Rather, she relaxes the tempos when the piece needs to breathe. The end result is a thoroughly delightful piano recital that -- while full of unfamiliar music -- should appeal to just about anyone.

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