Estancia

About this work

Ginastera's main calling card in the world's concert halls is this four-movement suite drawn from his 1941 ballet Estancia, inspired by life on the ranches of Argentina. Ginastera had entered his folkloristic phase by the time he wrote this ballet, and much (but not all) of the music is rough, brash, and bracingly rhythmic. Ginastera compiled this suite to salvage what he could of the score, since New York's Ballet Caravan, which had commissioned the work, disbanded before it could present the premiere. It's a bravura work that never fails to elicit cheers from an audience.

"Los Trabajadores agricolas" (The Agricultural Workers) is not the placid piece one might expect from the title; it's a dark, driving dance inspired by the malambo, the country dance that appears in full force in the suite's finale. The brass carry the imposing, propulsive first part of this piece, but it's the woodwinds that take responsibility for the rhythmically tricky, jagged, more subdued yet somewhat menacing middle section.

"Danza del trigo" (Wheat Dance) is a lyrical interlude, a swaying piece evoking criollo (Argentine folk, not to be confused with North American creole) song. The flute carries the opening melody over a limping, staccato, wrong-note accompaniment; it's replaced by solo violin in the repeat, which follows a central section in which the strings present a broad, soaring melody.

Filling the role of scherzo is "Los Peones de hacienda" (The Cattlemen), with its driving, asymmetrical rhythm; brass-dominated proclamations; and arresting though brief tympani solos.

The frenzied "Danza final" (Final Dance) is a full-fledged malambo, representing a macho dance contest between gauchos. Ostinato rhythms maintain both momentum and tension in the movement's two main sections. The first half alternates between deranged tick-tock material used as introduction and transitions and a nervous dance melody for strings and eventually brass. The second half is a driving, percussion-jangled toccata, sometimes shrill but always compelling through its propulsive perpetual motion.

Done