A Carnegie Hall commemoration for Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera

Julian Wachner
The Washington Post

By Allan Kozinn

The Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera never lacked for champions in his lifetime, and since his death in 1983, several of his works — most notably his keyboard music — have remained in the repertory. But Ginastera’s output was enormous, and much of it currently dwells in the purgatory where works languish after their composers’ deaths, awaiting rediscovery.

That rediscovery may be at hand, and Julian Wachner offered a glimpse of it at Carnegie Hall on Saturday evening, when he conducted the first New York performance in 40 years of Ginastera’s monumental Passion setting — formally, the “Turbae ad Passionem Gregorianam,” Op. 43, from 1974.

Wachner, who is director of music and the arts at Trinity Wall Street, as well as the music director of the Washington Chorus, stumbled upon the work while poring over a catalogue of Ginastera’s music in search of ways to commemorate the composer’s centenary in 2016. And since the work demands an enormous performing force, he was able to use all his ensembles, and more: Crowded onto the Carnegie stage were the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Youth Chorus, the Washington Chorus, the Boy and Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral and NOVUS NY, the new-music orchestra Wachner founded at Trinity.

Before the Ginastera, Wachner led NOVUS NY and a smaller, offstage choir in a suitably gritty, roaring account of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4. Like the Ginastera, Ives combined antique elements (hymns and folk melodies) with freewheeling, modernist dissonance. It may not be, as Wachner suggests in a program-book interview, “the definitive 20th century American symphony,” but it captures Ives’s ornery New England spirit and makes a joyful noise, conveyed here in a virtuosic, high-energy reading.

Read the full review here.