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Classical - Released November 21, 2006 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Although classical recordings, particularly those of orchestral music, are expensive to make and usually have only the faintest hope of generating enough unit movement to pay the studio bill, some don't really get a fair shot at finding an audience before the delete sheet arrives to reclaim them. Gisèle Ben-Dor's 1997 recording of the complete scores of Alberto Ginastera's first two ballets Panambí and Estancia with the London Symphony Orchestra are a good example of this; issued on Conifer Classics in 1998, the disc was barely in the catalog a year before BMG pulled the plug on its classical division, which essentially rang the death knell for Conifer. Nearly a decade later, Naxos rights this wrong by making this performance available once again in its Latin American Classics Series. Both Panambí and Estancia are better known in their incarnations as concert suites; the concert suite for Estancia is probably the best-known orchestral work of Ginastera overall. This is the first recording made of Estancia as a complete ballet, and Ben-Dor has taken the option of having a narrator recite verses from the source work, José Hernández's poem "Martin Fierro," to link the various parts of the ballet, as is common in Argentine performances. Not everyone will be pleased with this choice, but it is completely in keeping with the nature of the work, and the narration is well delivered by singer/actor Luis Gaeta. In some cases Ben-Dor has also opted to substitute movements from the suites for those in the original ballets; although through mere circumstance the suites for both works were premiered before the ballets were staged, they were written later and represent ideas that seem a bit more finished than in the originals. Again, not everyone will find that a satisfactory compromise, but you have to hand it to Ben-Dor for taking the initiative in making these recordings the best that they can be from a textual standpoint. These recordings were made at Abbey Road and the London Philharmonic Orchestra does a terrific job in making these unfamiliar, and often dense, scores sing under Ben-Dor's knowing baton. This is not as crisp a performance as the best ones of the suites -- just witness Eduardo Mata's 1995 recording of the Estancia Suite on the Dorian disc Latin American Ballets, one of his last. However, it is better than just adequate and the Danza Final "Malambo" in Estancia packs plenty of wallop, just as it should. Moreover, one is grateful to finally have access to a complete recording of Estancia, which reveals the work as a masterpiece of modern composition, containing many inspired moments and ideas that are 50 years ahead of their time. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released June 1, 2010 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Naxos' 2010 collection of orchestral works by Alberto Ginastera conducted by Uruguayan-born Gisèle Ben-Dor includes both music from previous recordings and performances released here for the first time. Ben-Dor's recording of the complete ballets Panambí and Estancia (the latter a world premiere recording) was first released on Conifer in 1999 and reissued on Naxos in 2006. Suites from the ballets are among the composer's most popular and frequently performed works, but these "extended suites" are essentially excerpts drawn from the earlier complete recordings and include a substantial amount of music that will be new to most listeners. These versions include music that is frequently more lyrical than the rambunctious dances of the traditional suites and offer a fuller view of the expressive range of each of the ballets. Ben-Dor draws energetic, atmospheric performances from the London Symphony Orchestra. The newly issued works include an orchestration of the piano work Suite de Danzas Criollas from 1946, the orchestral triptych Ollantay from 1946-1947, and the magisterial tone poem Popul Vuh, which the composer left incomplete at his death in 1983. Ben-Dor commissioned Israeli composer Shimon Cohen to orchestrate Suite de Danzas Criollas in 2002. It's a serviceable arrangement, but it ultimately fails to make as strong an impression as the original because Cohen doesn't seem able to translate the idiomatic piano writing into persuasively idiomatic orchestral scoring. The performance, by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, is the weakest on the disc, rhythmically hazy in the slow movements and lacking in incisiveness and punch in the fast movements. Ginastera had completed all but the last movement of Popul Vuh: The Mayan Creation at his death, but the final complete movement he wrote is so powerful that it brings the work to an entirely satisfactory close. It's a superb summation of his career; he brought to it the full arsenal of contemporary techniques he had assimilated, as well as the visceral rhythmic drive familiar from his early, nationalist period, and it's fascinating to hear it in this context, juxtaposed with his more familiar, populist works. The performance, with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't capture the work's evocative strangeness or its exhilarating primal explosiveness quite as well as Stefan Asbury's version on Neos with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln. The disc literally spans the composer's career, with Ginastera's Panambí, Op. 1, and Popol Vuh his last work, and while it doesn't include examples of his rigorously modernist middle period, it's a good introduction to one of the masters of mid-20th century music. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Mercury (Universal France)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released July 18, 1995 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 1985 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Symphonic Music - Released December 20, 2013 | Les Indispensables de Diapason

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released January 1, 1971 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Opera - Released November 30, 2018 | LSO Live

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 26, 2010 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Variaciones concertantes (1953) may be Ginastera's most immediately engaging symphonic piece, and this version is among its finest recorded performances. Uruguyan conductor Gisèle Ben-dor, leading the Israel Chamber Orchestra, knows when to let its relaxed slow movements unfold with just the right Latinate languor, and she drives its fast movements with exhilarating momentum. It is essentially a concerto for orchestra, with individual variations highlighting solo instruments or sections -- it's hard to see why it hasn't taken a place next to Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra -- and each soloist here turns in superbly nuanced performances. The cello soloist who is assigned the work's theme at the opening stands out in particular, playing its final, impossibly stratospheric harmonic note with piercing purity and sweetness, to devastatingly intense effect. The pieces are framed by performances of two versions of Ginastera's Glosses on Themes of Pablo Casals, which he wrote in the final decade of his life in memory of the great cellist, who had been a supporter of his music and who was a mentor to his wife, cellist Aurora Natola-Ginastera. The composer had spent a portion of his mature career as a modernist, but in this work, originally for string quintet and string orchestra, and then arranged for full orchestra, he returned to the accessibility of the works of his youth. The characteristics of that youthful period -- a plangent lyricism and a surging rhythmic exuberance -- are evident in his homage to Casals, although they are also informed by an expanded technical resourcefulness. In tone, they earnestly express Ginastera's devotion to and reverence for the cellist, and the lasting impression they leave is one of serene contemplation. The London Symphony Orchestra, under Ben-dor's sensitive leadership, turns in a warmly radiant performance. The sound is clean, with a good sense of presence. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released September 3, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Ernest Bloch's Symphony in C sharp minor was written in 1900, when the composer was 20 and studying in Germany. It is an absolutely charming student work. The booklet to this Naxos release speaks of "inner struggles" and "turmoil, hopes, desires, joy, sorrow, and despair," and indeed the conductor and Bloch specialist Prof. Dalia Atlas is following the recollections of Bloch himself in this regard. It may all be true enough, but the appeal of the work lies rather in the way the young composer digests the styles of some hugely individualistic composers of his day, principally Strauss, Mahler, and Bruckner, and boils them down to a final exam-ready four-movement symphony of reasonable length. This would seem to be a tall order, but Bloch condenses these inherently sprawling models in countless clever ways. Hear the way the slow movement disperses itself into Mahler's concertante treatment of the orchestra and then reforms, for example. The Poems of the Sea, inspired by poetry of Walt Whitman, are later pieces, composed in 1922; this, too, is a neglected work, notable for its incorporation of Irish folk music in a somewhat mystical manner completely different from that of the English pastoralists. The London Symphony Orchestra seems genuinely enthused by the music, and the sound from Abbey Road studios is above average. One can't help thinking how the symphony would make an excellent first half for a concert devoted to one of the big Mahler symphonies for its final barn-burner. Well worth the time of Bloch enthusiasts. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released February 5, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released January 12, 2010 | LSO Live

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Classical - Released October 9, 2007 | LSO Live

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