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Antonio Lysy - At The Broad: Music from Argentina - Audio Video Club of Atlanta

03 June 2010
Audio Video Club of Atlanta
Phil Muse

Argentine cellist Antonio Lysy makes the first commercial recording to come out of the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica a memorable debut. The son of acclaimed violinist Alberto Lysy (who gained fame for his collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin and other great musicians), Antonio dedicates the CD to his father and celebrates the composers of his own country and the rich folk heritage that inspired them. That music is a mix of native pre-Hispanic and Creole influences, together with the later intrusion of the Tango, the beautiful, sensuous dance that has come for many people to epitomize Argentina itself, and in particular Buenos Aires.

The program begins with Pampeana No. 2 by Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983), the first Argentine composer to make an impact in the concert halls of the world. True to its title, the rhapsody evokes the landscape of the Pampas as Ginastera alternates contrasted slow and fast measures with the energetic, stomping dances of the Argentine gauchos. Lysy's cello gets plenty of opportunity to shine, singing an eloquent cadenza seasoned with double stops and pizzicati when it isn't stamping in time to the highly inflected musical metre.

We also hear from Ginastera in three other delectable pieces: a pair of song transcriptions from his Five Popular Argentine Songs entitled Triste and Zamba (The latter, a formal dance in 6/8 metre performed by couples who circle one another gracefully waving white handkerchiefs, as much dance as it is song) and Puneña No. 2, a melancholy love song based in part on an actual Amerindian melody from Cuzco, Peru by way of the Andean highland plateau. The eloquent, lyric quality in Lysy's playing is noteworthy in all three pieces.

The renowned cellist and composer José Bragato is heard from in his own moody tango Graciela y Buenos Aires and in three transcriptions for cello and ensemble of music by the late Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). "Oblivion," true to its name, is sad, steeped in wistful nostalgia, and "Milonga del ángel" makes use of the dance form of the title, a predecessor of the Tango with its irregular rhythms offsetting a regular 2/4 beat. Finally, Le Grand Tango, Piazzolla's masterpiece, in which sublime eloquence overlays earthy passion, gets an elegant performance by Lysy, with assistance from Bryan Pezzone, Pablo Motta, and the Capitol Ensemble members.

Two other works command respect. Omaramor by Osvaldo Golijov is described by its own composer as "dirty enough, especially as it gets into the tough tango section," and also "beautiful." It is dedicated to the legendary tango vocalist Carlos Gardel, based on his song "My Beloved Buenos Aires." Golijov uses stunning harmonic progressions to picture the singer wandering through the streets of the city. Finally, Pampas 2009, a provocative and introspective evocation of the vast, mysterious grasslands, was written especially for the glowing premiere Antonio gives it in this album.

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