Alberto Ginastera: Popol Vuh – Cantata para América Mágica


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Artikelnummer: NEOS 10918 Kategorie:
Veröffentlicht am: November 26, 2009


Die unbändige Kraft präkolumbianischer Mythen, neu geboren in einer modernen Sprache. Stefan Asbury bringt das WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln zum Brodeln, wenn Alberto Ginastera in seinem Spätwerk „Popol Vuh“ (1975–83) die Schöpfungsgeschichte der Mayas erzählt. Um die Stimme des Menschen in dieser untergegangenen Kultur geht es in der dramatischen „Cantata para América Mágica“ (1960) auf Worte von Mercedes de Toro. Die Protagonistin Rayanne Dupuis intoniert Gebete, Liebes- und Abschiedslieder, umzingelt von einem bunt schillernden Klangapparat: dem Schlagzeugensemble der Hochschule für Musik Köln, dem Ensemble S und dem Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo.


Popol Vuh op. 44 (1975–1983) 25:16
La creación del mundo maya · The Creation of the Mayan World
for orchestra

[01] I La noche de los tiempos 06:35
Die Nacht der Zeiten · The Everlasting Night · La nuit des temps

[02] II El nacimiento de la tierra 04:30
Die Geburt der Erde · The Birth of the Earth · La naissance de la terre

[03] III El despertar de la naturaleza 04:55
Das Erwachen der Natur · Nature Wakes · L’éveil de la nature

[04] IV El grito de la creación 00:40
Der Schrei der Schöpfung · The Cry of Creation · Le cri de la création

[05] V La gran lluvia 02:43
Der große Regen · The Grand Rain · La grande pluie

[06] VI La ceremonia mágica del maíz 02:39
Die Magische Maiszeremonie · The Magic Ceremony of Indian Corn · La cérémonie magique du maïs

[07] VII El sol, la luna, las estrellas 03:14
Die Sonne, der Mond, die Sterne · The Sun, the Moon, the Stars · Le soleil, la lune, les étoiles

Cantata para América Mágica op. 27 (1960) 24:18
for dramatic soprano and percussion orchestra
on poems by Mercedes de Toro after ancient pre-Columbian manuscripts

[08] I Preludio y canto a la aurora 04:56
Vorspiel und Gesang an den Sonnenaufgang · Prelude and Song of Dawn · Prélude et chant à l’aurore

[09] II Nocturno y canto de amor 03:59
Nocturne und Liebesgesang · Nocturne and Love Song · Nocturne et chant d’amour

[10] III Canto para la partida de los guerreros 02:08
Gesang zum Aufbruch der Krieger · Song for the Warriors’ Departure · Chant pour le départ des guerriers

[11] IV Interludio fantástico 03:51
Fantastisches Zwischenspiel · Fantastic Interlude · Interlude fantastique

[12] V Canto de agonía y desolación 05:36
Gesang von Agonie und Verzweiflung · Song of Agony and Desolation · Chant d’agonie et de désolation

[13] VI Canto de la profecía 03:49
Prophetischer Gesang · Song of Prophecy · Chant de la prophétie

total time: 49:46

WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln

Rayanne Dupuis, soprano

Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo

Ensemble_S (Norbert Krämer · Arnold Marinissen · Stephan Meier · Adam Weisman)

Schlagzeugensemble der Musikhochschule Köln
(Sjoerd Ceelen · Jelle Overheul · Rik van Wijgerden · Wouter de Winne
Carlos Tarcha · Benjamin Schmidt · Paul Altmann · Frank Lorenz · Feliks Zakurin
Hana Yoo · Cezara Dafina Pop, percussion · Yumi Kimachi, celesta)
Stephan Meier, rehearsals · Prof. Carlos Tarcha, director

Stefan Asbury, conductor


I first encountered Popol Vuh on a Naxos CD from Gisèle Ben-Dor and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which was warmly received by Hubert Culot. That well-filled disc includes Ginastera’s ballet Estancia, the Danza final of which is the most exhilarating music I know; played with idiomatic vitality and verve by the London Symphony Orchestra it’s a pick-me-up that will also give your woofers a workout. The latter applies to parts of Popol Vuh, an account of the Mayan creation transcribed by a 16th-century Dominican missionary; which is one reason why I was so looking forward to this Neos SACD.

Conductor Stefan Asbury is new to me, although his online profile confirms he has appeared with some of the world’s major orchestras. He’s also known for innovative programming, as this pairing of Popol Vuh and the otherwise unrecorded Cantata para América Mágica demonstrates. I suspect Popol Vuh, described as Ginastera’s Rite of Spring, will have the broadest appeal, given its exotic scoring and raw primitivism. Unfinished when the composer died in 1983 it remains a solid and compelling piece, very different from the easy exuberance of his earlier works, the ballets Estancia and Panambi in particular.

The Everlasting Night is characterised by dark strings and slow, primordial stirrings in the rest of the orchestra, all of which is superbly caught by the Neos engineers. The growling brass – not so prominent on the Naxos recording – are especially impressive, and the weird timp figures in The Birth of the Earth are thoroughly unsettling too. That said it’s the explosive, atavistic rhythms that are most reminiscent of Le sacre, although Ginastera uses his bass drum and percussion sparingly.

There’s some evocative writing in Nature Awakes which, along with The Grand Rain, manages to avoid the usual colouristic clichés.

Indeed, there’s an economy and originality of utterance here that’s most attractive, and the detailed, well-balanced sonics – individual instruments are convincingly arrayed on a wide, deep soundstage – underlines that. One senses also that Asbury isn’t one to surrender control, even in the powerful, punctuating rhythms of The Magic Ceremony of the Indian Corn and the orchestral supernovae of The Sun, the Moon, the Stars. As much as I enjoy Ben-Dor’s excellent performance – it’s a decent recording and the disc offers a number of other well-played Ginastera pieces – Asbury’s Popol Vuh is now my first choice; as a bonus the Neos sound is first rate on both the RBCD and stereo Super Audio layers.

For all its felicities, the cantata – a collection of poems by Mercedes de Toro, based on pre-Colombian manuscripts – is compromised by the distractingly wide vibrato of soprano Rayanne Dupuis. She struggles to stay on the note and is audibly taxed by the fast, impassioned writing of the Song for the Warriors’ Departure. The piano duo and various percussion groups are excellent though, and as before they are well recorded. The gurgle and shimmer of the instrumental Fantastic Interlude is a sonic delight, and although Dupuis is more ingratiating in the quieter moments of the Song of Agony and Desolation she seems a little too distant in the concluding Song of Prophecy.

This disc is worth acquiring for Popol Vuh, but the variable soloist in the cantata and the very short playing time might deter some listeners. In terms of bang for your buck Ben-Dor’s collection is still very desirable, not least for her intoxicating accounts of PanambiEstancia and Ollantay. What a pity that Neos blot their copybook with a double-gatefold Digipak; after just a couple of hours it’s already looking creased and scuffed.

Popol Vuh gets a first-rate performance; the cantata isn’t so fortunate.

Dan Morgan


No. 6/2012