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Nostalgias Argentinas / Mirian Conti

Release Date: 06/26/2012
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30010
Composer:  Remo Pignoni ,  Emilio Balcarce ,  Horacio Salgán ,  Carlos Guastavino  ...  Performer:  Mirian Conti Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Stereo

"I suspect you will be unfamiliar with most of the music in this recording, as I certainly was, but it will nonetheless enchant you upon your very first hearing."

This highly enjoyable collection presents Argentinian piano works written during the 1920s. Exemplifying the disc’s title, Carlos Guastavino’s wistful and reflective 10 Cantos populares evokes nostalgia for the Old World of Europe, while the playful tangos of Pedro Saenz’s Aquel Buenos Aires evokes the vibrant spirit of the new continent. These, along with Gilardo Gilardi’s Cantares de mi cantar, are multi-movement works that make up the bulk of the program.

The interleaving shorter works explore the varied musical character of
Read more Argentina, from Horacio Salgan’s saucy, sexy Don Agustin Bardi, to Floro Meliton Ugarte’s somberly dancing Vidala, which laments the suffering of the native Indians. Osmar Maderna’s Lluvia de estrellas is Chopin’s “Minute” Waltz turned upside down and rendered Argentina-style. The program ends in a virtuoso flourish with Julian Plaza’s scintillating Nocturna.

Virtuoso also describes the work of pianist Mirian Conti, who performs the wide range of musical styles here with infectious verve and impeccable musicianship. The recording is an object lesson in how to capture the sound of a grand piano and then to convincingly, realistically reproduce it. If all you know of Argentinian music is Astor Piazzolla (which some of this music anticipates), you’re in for a real treat with this generously filled (78 minutes) disc. Highly recommended.

– Victor Carr Jr,

Look up the word ‘nostalgia’ in a thesaurus and among the suggestions are ‘longing’, ‘regret’ and ‘reminiscence’. It seems to me that what is on display here is a common longing for the past, a regret for its passing and the use of music to reminisce about it and for the length of each piece to momentarily bring it back. That said it is interesting to note how long ago composers were already looking back at past times; the oldest pieces here date from 1924 when most of the others were children so most of them must be looking back to a time before they were born. Is the past in their blood I wonder because there is a collective feeling expressed on this disc resulting in music, despite differing styles, all of which could conceivably have been written by a single composer. In saying that I don’t not want to imply anything as all of the music is extremely evocative and effective to the extent that non Argentineans can relate to the feelings expressed. Mirian Conti is a powerful and sensitive advocate of this music and she plays with the same feelings expressed in it. In her booklet notes the pianist explains that many of the tunes are dances mainly from the north of the country: gato, chacarena, bailecito, vidala, milonga, vals criolla as well as the tango, a dance that originated in Buenos Aires. All of the compositions are short and the longest work is the ten cantos populares of Carlos Guastavino, a cycle of beautiful little pieces that reminded me of Medtner’s Forgotten Melodies (ops.38-40), the first one of which is entitled Sonata reminiscenza. Number 6 of Guastavino’s cycle (track 10) I found was a particularly evocative one in expressing what the booklet quotes from André Bolzinger’s Gale Dictionary of Psychoanalysis as being The Mysterious Presence of Absence. The most potent message I draw from this disc is that there is music from Argentina that goes beyond our common understanding of it, to whit: Argentinean music does not begin and end with the tango or Ástor Piazzolla and that it doesn’t have to be played on the bandoneón. This is a valuable musical lesson for us all.

– Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International

"Mirian Conti is the perfect interpreter of this music, Indeed, who could play it better, with perhaps the possible exception of Martha Argerich? Miss Conti imbues these short works with all of the infectious rhythms and colors the music demands. Her performance is sure to strike a sympathetic chord within your heart. She has an unquestionable lilt and panache in her delivery of the dance rhythms and a wonderful vocal quality as she makes the piano sing the many popular song melodies. Her performance is beautifully captured in this recording. The piano technicians at Steinway & Sons and the audio technicians for ArkivMusic miraculously preserve the sound of the piano to its optimum effect. The result is quite magical. I suspect you will be unfamiliar with most of the music in this recording, as I certainly was, but it will nonetheless enchant you upon your very first hearing. If you are an aficionado of solo piano music and superb pianists, this is a recording you will want to own, and one you will enjoy listing to many times over. I have no reservations whatever in wholeheartedly recommending this most unusual and distinctive recording." – Micaele Sparacino,

"Here's another enjoyable and terrific-sounding release from Steinway & Sons, this one of rare repertory...Pianist Mirian Conti has dug through dusty shelves and musty books to find these neglected gems filled with yearning, painted with vivid colors, and veined through with stunning melodies. The melancholy is palpable but muted; the joy audible but wistful. Conti’s playing is perfect: at once sentimental and steely, innocent and sly...a stellar collection of Argentina’s best dance-music composers, men who could render worlds of tender emotion on miniature canvases. And a disc to savor." – Stephen Estep, The Absolute Sound

"Here are meditative and melancholy pieces for a shady hammock in the afternoon and tangos for twilight pleasure from New York City-based pianist Mirian Conti...Conti’s light, determined, elegant, warm-tipped touch make these 14 pieces and little suites glow and shimmer. I challenge even the stoniest heart not to be seduced." -- John Terauds, Musical Toronto
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