Ginastera - Danza de la Moza Donosa

Background

Danza de la Moza Donosa (Dance of the Beautiful Maiden) is the second movement of Ginastera's Opus 2, Danzas Argentinas (Argentine Dances).

It comes from Ginastera's early period of composition that he called 'Objective Nationalism', in which he often used folk themes. The outer movements in particular show Ginastera's uniquely developing style in their exciting use of dissonance that is transformed into piquant melodic lines and developing musical patterns. The 1st and 3rd movements are of a more difficult standard.

Here is the complete work, played by Roberto Plano:

Pupil Match & Suitability

This piece will be loved by students who have the musical maturity to enjoy the dissonance of the middle section, whilst bringing out the beauty of the melodic lines.

The outer sections need sensitivity, with the ability to control balance and tone. A wide dynamic range is required for a successful performance of this piece.

The opening is deceptively easy looking but the middle part of the piece is much more challenging.

Style & Tempo

This dance is graceful and gentle, with a haunting melody against a swaying, 6/8 accompaniment, but with a more impassioned middle section that often uses intervals of a fourth and fifth, giving a distinctly 20th century flavour.

The gentle opening here is by the Argentine performer, Alberto Portugeis, who takes the music at a pace that is lingering and evocative.

Compare this performance with one at a faster pace by Martha Argarich. This quicker pace gives more impassioned, seductive mood.

Phrasing & Articulation

Quite simply, the articulation needs to be legato throughout.
Generous use of sustaining pedal will smooth the LH repeated notes in the outer sections, although care should be taken, in any case, to avoid play these staccato. The LH should provide a velvety background for the singing melody lines.

The middle section is also to be played legato and, in most bars, this is perfectly possible as long as fingering is carefully considered. Please see the fingering section for details.

Tone & Texture

The initial attack of the opening bars needs to be subtle, as demonstrated here by Portugeis. This is not a bold statement , but a gentle introduction to the dance.

The melody also introduces itself in a subtle manner, beginning on a weak beat of Bar 4 and moving towards Bar 5 with a slight crescendo. The melody line must, however be played with tonal definition at all times, observing the composer's direction to play smoothly, with a 'cantando' or 'singing' tone.

Technique

The main technical challenge is that of balancing the textures. The student could experiment with weighting a different note in a series of chords and then describe the effect. It is a good ideas for the teacher to do this too, so that the student may listen to the effect without having to concentrate on the technical aspects.

It will be noticed that maintaining a strongly projected melody line minimises the dissonance in the middle section whereas emphasising the inner, next-door notes will create a completely different sound.

Fingering

Fingering of the LH introduction bars could be -
Bar 1: 5 - 2 - 3 - 1 - 4, then
Bar 2: 5 - 2 - 4 - 1 - 4.
Individual hand shape and size will mean that some students may feel happier with a different fingering but, whatever is chosen, it is useful to change fingers on the repeated E.

Bar 25 LH: try 5 - 2 - 1 - 2/5 - 1/4, which works on many subsequent bars too.

Pedalling

A student who is already using the pedal intuitively by listening carefully will not experience too much difficulty in pedalling effectively.

General advice for those who need it is to depress the sustaining pedal just after the first bass note of each bar, then release and depress it quickly on the second beat (ie 4th quaver); fully release and depress on the next bar, and so on.

An exercise in pedalling for this piece could be to play a bass note fairly strongly, then experiment with a quick up-and-down pedal , aiming to release some, but not all, of the sound. This effect in the actual piece will sustain some of the bass note sound through each bar but without losing the clarity of the melody lines and without blurring harmonies too much.

As always, the pedalling partly depends on the tone and tonal balance. A student who is able to bring out the melody strongly may use a little more pedal than one who finds this difficult.

Teaching Strategies

The important thing is to draw attention to what is easy about this piece. Although the middle section is, without doubt, the most challenging part of the piece the physical patterns of the thick textured are actually easy to memorise.
Encourage the student to begin with the middle section and the rest of the piece will seem like a gift.

The outer sections offer a good opportunity to build on confident keyboard geography. If the student can be persuaded to avoid looking down to find the lower LH notes and instead to develop a kinaesthetic memory for the intervals, the resulting performance will probably be more fluent.

Practice Tips

The middle section is a sensible starting point and this part of the piece will need the most practice. Separate hands work will pay dividends and this section would benefit from being memorised.

The student should not practise solely for the purpose of note learning, but should listen keenly to the balance of sound. The melody lines need always to be singing in tone and prominent in the textural balance.

Troubleshooting

The worst thing that could happen to this intense piece is that it might be played without feeling. The mental picture should really be of the swaying, sinuous beauty of the dancing girl should be portrayed with conviction - and we should, perhaps, assume that she is not so very young, but perhaps of late teenage years!

Listening to the piece played before attempting to learn it and also hearing the other two pieces in the set of three Danzas Argentinas Opus 2 will be helpful in characterising the style of this composer.

Final Performance

These are some of the best recorded performances.

Daniel Barenboim's live performance is possibly even better than the recording:



Martha Argarich takes the pace of the dance a little quicker in her own inimitable style:




The playing here is by Alberto Portugheis who, like the composer. is from Argentina.

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