About this Recording
8.223462 - GUASTAVINO: Piano Music

Carlos Guastavino (b. 1912)
Piano Music


The Argentinian composer Garlos Guastavino was born in Santa Fé in 1912. He first studied chemical engineering, but won a provincial government scholarship that enabled him to study music in Buenos Aires, where he entered the National Conservatory in 1938 as a student of the composer Athos Palma, professor of harmony. He studied further in Europe in the years after the war. His compositions include songs, song-cycles and piano pieces. Notable among his orchestral works are the ballet Once Upon A Time, written in 1942, and the Suite Argentina, while his chamber music includes a violin sonata, written in 1952. In style he relies heavily on Argentinian traditional dance rhythms and melodies, writing in an idiom that clearly proclaims its national origins. His best known songs include La rosa y el sauce (“The Rose and the Willow”) and Se equivoco la paloma (“The Dove”).

Romance del Plata is a three-movement sonatina for piano duet. Its gently lyrical first movement, its texture never overloaded by superfluous notes, ends with a rapid coda, leading to a slow movement, marked Andante cantabile sereno, moving from the first movement key of A major to D major, with thematic material treated antiphonally between the two players. The Sonatina ends with a Rondo that includes episodes of more overtly Latin American character.

Tres Romances, “Three Romances”, for two pianos, published in 1951, opens with Las Niñas (“The Girls”), in the key of E-flat minor, a moving piece that again treats the two instruments with great delicacy. The second Prelude, Muchacho Jujeño (“Jujeño Boy”), dedicated to the composer’s sisters, offers a contrast in mood and spirit, with its insistently repeated folk rhythms. It is followed by a final Baile (“Dance”), in F-sharp major, the enharmonic tonic major of the first Prelude, providing a still more marked contrast to what has gone before.

Bailecito, in C-sharp minor, is a two piano version of a characteristic dance of Bolivian origin and is followed here by Gato, a rural Argentinian dance. Llanura opens calmly, before moving to a central scherzando section. It is followed by a free version for two pianos of the composer’s song Se equivoco la paloma (“The Dove”), a setting of a poem by Rafael Alberti, a Spanish poet who took refuge in Buenos Aires after the Spanish Civil War. The rhythm of the words suggests the rhythmic and melodic contour of the principal melody.

La Siesta, published in 1955, for one piano, contains three characteristic pieces, El Patio (“The Courtyard”), El Sauce (“The Willow”) and Gorriones (“Sparrows”). The first two breathe an air of sultry calm, largely dispelled in the end by the livelier third piece. The portraits of Las Presencias, again for one piano, are, the composer assures us, entirely imaginary, so that neither Loduvina nor Horacio Lavalle are to be identified with any known person, living or dead. The characters portrayed, however, are clearly evident from the music itself, the first, published in 1959, delicate and elegant, the second, written in 1961, a more brusquely capricious man, with passionate changes of mood.

Keith Anderson

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