Pianist Mirian Conti Surveys Rich but Rarely Heard Music from Her Native Country with New Album
“Conti's playing is full of sparkle, color, intelligence and rhythmic life." — Fanfare
Argentine-American pianist Mirian Conti’s second recording on the Steinway & Sons label showcases an irresistibly affecting selection of music from her native land. To be released June 26, 2012, her album Nostalgias Argentinas features works that are undeniably rich but rarely heard outside Argentina. Interweaving the influences of folk traditions, classical music, popular songs and, of course, the tango, these deeply evocative, often bittersweet pieces range from the 20th-century Romanticism of such composers as Carlos Guastavino and Carlos López Buchardo to a more modern strain of composition by Pedro Sáenz and Gilardo Gilardi to the sophisticated contemporary tango of Horacio Salgán. Like Chopin and Rachmaninoff, these are composers who wrote brilliantly for the piano, says Conti: “Their music reveals a deep feel for the instrument and how to use all its resources to achieve rich sonorities and vivid colors.” Conti’s own ability to conjure magic from the keyboard has been recognized far and wide. La Capital of Argentina has said: "In Conti’s interpretations, there is the necessary mix of brio and tenderness, of fire and introspective melancholy, of strength and delicacy, a simplicity that only those genuinely endowed are able to master."
In Conti’s characteristically thoughtful, detailed liner notes to Nostalgias Argentinas, she writes: “For me, this recording brings with it nostalgia for my own musical past, for those Argentine composers lost or forgotten on the shelves of libraries, conservatories and old pianos. As one travels through the pieces in this recording, melancholy, longing and nostalgia are sounded in different ways, shaped by the personal experiences of each composer. The deeply nationalist feelings within express a longing to return to one’s roots, to one’s essence: to find something left behind or lost on some shelf of one’s personal life. Many of us who have gone away from our homes experience this feeling of nostalgia.”
Nostalgias Argentinas shows the many faces of classical Argentine solo piano music from the 1920s to today, with the composers continuously searching for a national voice even as they chose various styles of expression. Many of the pieces are based on folk or popular dances, though threads of Schubert, Chopin, Franck and Prokofiev may weave in and out. But whether the musical language was romantic or modern, these composers from Argentina were very much aware of the importance of returning to their roots; for all the stylistic differences among these works, the composers are all recognizably Argentinean, says Conti: “It’s just as with Copland or Gershwin or Bernstein or Scott Joplin – all their music is very different yet each is recognizably American. It’s the same with these Argentine composers, who differ stylistically yet obviously have a kindred spirit. All of the works on the album, whether angular in polytonality and accents or luscious in an impressionist mood, are without a doubt Argentine.”
Nostalgias Argentinas is a sequel to Looking South, Conti’s widely praised 2006 Albany Records release that featured a different selection of Argentine rarities. Reviewing that disc, All Music Guide declared: “Conti is a sympathetic interpreter of this music, with lots of rhythmic verve.” Conti’s 2011 Steinway & Sons release of Chopin’s complete mazurkas was also a critical favorite. In his glowing Classics Today review of that double-disc set, Jed Distler wrote: “Fusing instinct and intellect, Conti clearly has thought these amazingly inventive and diverse pieces through. . . Thousands of fetching details abound throughout this release.” Fanfare magazine added: “Conti brings all these pieces to life with a spirit of fantasy and imagination that is totally endearing.”
About Mirian Conti
Reviewing a recital by Mirian Conti, The New York Times said: “Ms. Conti's pianism offers more than tonal luster – her's was an impressionism imbued with sinew and, in livelier movements, with the spirit of the dance. Her playing was impulsive, colorful and precise.”
A Steinway Artist based in New York City, the Argentine-American Conti has earned growing renown for performances that combine technical brilliance with originality and insight in a wide range of repertoire. In recognition of her extraordinary talent, a scholarship honoring Mirian Conti was established at the Juilliard School by the Edwin Bachman Estate. In addition, she was selected as one of “100 Outstanding Alumni” to celebrate Juilliard’s centennial in 2005-6. She was a scholarship student of Richard Fabre and Josef Raieff; other teachers include Genny Blech, Freda Rosenblatt and Byron Janis.
Conti’s 18 album-length recordings cover a diversity of styles, from the music of Spain and her native Argentina to Chopin’s complete mazurkas released on the Steinway & Sons label. Many 20th- and 21st-century composers have written works for her, including Samuel Zyman, David Diamond, James Cohn, Katherine Hoover, Michael White, Phillip Ramey and Benjamin Lees. She has premiered works by Vincent Persichetti, Morton Gould and Paul Bowles. Conti has performed solo and with orchestras in Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America, Canada and throughout the U.S. She has made solo, orchestral and chamber appearances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and at Merkin Concert Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, as well as the Teatro Colón in Argentina. She has also appeared in Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Morocco, Montenegro, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and several cities in China.
Actively involved in the music education of young pianists, Conti has for many years been creating and directing competitions, festivals and marathons in the U.S. and South America. She also participates as adjudicator of major international competitions and is currently on the faculty of the Evening Division at the Juilliard School. For more information, go to www.mirianconti.com.
About Steinway & Sons
Since 1853 Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty and investment value. Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and it is the preferred piano of countless musicians, professional and amateur, throughout the world. For more information, visit www.steinway.com.
Steinway & Sons