Looking around at LPs and CDs on eBay the other day, I spotted a collection of choral music, Oratio: 20th Century Sacred Music from Spain and Latin America on the Guild label. Among the several pieces by a variety of composers, the first is Lamentations of Jeremiah, a short but moving choral piece by Alberto Ginastera.
I enjoy classical music that employs folk or national themes, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, my first acquaintance with this kind of music (before I knew of Copland and Vaughan Williams), was Ginastera, an Argentinian composer who lived from 1916 till 1983. The last movement of his 1961 piano concerto was recorded as a prog-rock song on a 1973 Emerson, Lake and Palmer album, and I wanted to hear the whole concerto.
Of course, the only way I could find an unusual recording like that concerto (that is, an LP not typically carried in stores) was to order it through a record store, which I did: the LP directed by Erich Leinsdorf with the pianist (also renowned for his Bach interpretations) João Carlos Martins. The other side of the LP was Variaciones concertantes (1953), which I liked just as much. Eventually I ordered LPs of the Concerto for Strings (1966), the second string quartet, and the 1956 Harp Concerto. The record store in the St. Clair Square mall near St. Louis was quite helpful.
A good source that summarizes Ginastera’s life and work is: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/ginastera.php Checking out this and a few other online sources, I learned that Ginastera’s music fit into three periods, “Objective Nationalism” (1934-1948), “Subjective Nationalism” (1948-1958), and “Neo-Expressionism” (1958-1983), that latter of which still incorporates Argentine elements but in a more abstract way. Ginastera stands with Villa-Lobos as major 20th century Latin American composers.
Here is Ginastera's Lamentations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89dm67EHU5c Here are the lovely Variaciones concertantes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_XzPostC6g
Here also is that final movement of the first piano concerto---and I still have the LP after all these years.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMVAQWTYw2A&feature=relmfu And finally, here is Emerson, Lake and Palmer's rendition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXZE5E-23Ck