Although he eventually borrowed sonorities and procedures from the serialist and experimentalist movements of the ensuing decades, he did so selectively and undogmatically, synthesizing with ever-increasing sophistication and discretion the echoes of his native Argentina with the expanding compositional palette of the avant-garde1.
From this second period of Ginastera's career as a composer are some of his most important works – among others, the Rondo sobre Temas Infantiles Argentinos Op. 19 (1947), the Piano Sonata No. 1 Op. 22 (1952) and the Pampeana No. 3 Op.24 for orchestra (1954).
Ginastera's neo-expressionist period sees the nationalist element in his compositions lose its predominance, making room for more explicit modern music characteristics. Dodecaphony is actively employed – along with microtones and politonality – and the composer's unique contribution to serial techniques consists in the thematic employment of different chromatic sounds, adding to progressions of different intervals. On the works from this third period, Ginastera himself would state that “there are no more folk melodic or rhythmic cells, nor is there any simbolism”2. Nevertheless, as Dabul points out:
There are […] constant Argentine elements, such as strong, obsessive rhythms, meditative adagios suggesting the quietness of the Pampas; magic, mysterious sounds reminding the cryptic nature of the country3.
From this period are the operas Don Rodrigo (1963-1964), Bomarzo (1966-1967) and Beatrix Cenci (1971) ; the Popol Vuh for orchestra Op. 44 (1975–1983, left incomplete at the composer's death) ; the Cello concerto No. 1 Op. 36 (1968) and the Cello concerto No. 2 Op. 50 (1980-1981); the Glosses sobre Temes de Pau Casals for string orchestra, Op. 46 (1976) and the Glosses sobre Temes de Pau Casals for full orchestra Op. 48 (1976-1977).
The piece under analysis today is the Danzas Argentinas Op.2 for piano solo. Written in 1937, it is comprised by three dances – namely, the Danza del Viejo Boyero Op.2 No.1; the Danza de la Moza Danosa Op.2 No. 2 ; and the Danza del Gaucho Matrero Op. 2 No. 3.
The Op. 2 No. 1 features a politonal structure – the left hand plays only black keys, while the right plays only white keys – with E phrygian being the predominant mode. A catching melody is drawn with the use of rhythm and texture. At the end of the piece, the criollo culture is represented by the chord E-A-D-G-B-E – the same chord produced by the guitar open strings in standard tuning.
The Op.2 No. 2 is a dance in 6/8 time. In the first section, chromatic inflexions are used to create tension and release. In the second part, the harmonization based on intervals of fourth and fifth is used to produce an impression of expansiveness, representing the vast area covered by the Argentine pampas. The last section retrieves the theme from the first section, yet in a more complex harmonization based on intervals of third.
Finally, the Op.2 No.3 is a dance written in a structure close to the rondo structure (ABACDACD). Sharp dissonances are used to create a turbulent aura. The thematic material is woven by chromatic passages in sections A and B and tonal passages in C and D, with a majestic chord progression in D. An arresting coda in ffff dynamics and a fantastic glissando close the dance.
The turbulent atmosphere and the intensity of the Danzas Argentinas unfold in the bold, dazzling and captivating interpretation of acclaimed German concert pianist Andreas Woyke. Enjoy!