Ginastera's Variaciones Concertantes for Chamber Orchestra was written in response to a commission from the Association of the Friends of music in Buenos Aires. First performed on 2 June 1953, the Variaciones Concertantes was placed near the end of Ginastera's 'subjective nationalism' period by the composer himself.
The work, like others of this period in the composer's output, makes allusions, rather than explicit references, to Argentine folk music. The theme for the variations, for example, is based on a chord formed by the open strings of a guitar (E-A-d-g-b-e'). The use of solo instruments in the variations explains the Concertantes element of the title.
Highlights include the horn's solo variation, a beautiful pastoral theme, and the final orchestral conclusion which fuses fragments and ideas from the preceding movements in an energetic rondo.
Alberto Ginastera occupied a leading position in the musical world of Argentina, where he exercised a strong influence over a younger generation of composers.
He founded the centre for Advanced Musical Studies in Buenos Aires and became its director in 1963.
He later spent much time in Europe, settling in Geneva.
His early music drew on native gaucho and Indian music, and even though he subsequently embraced modernist techniques his music retained its exuberance and rhythmic excitement.
He composed three operas that aroused controversy for their sexuality and violence, ballet scores, concertos for violin, harp, cello and piano, and a considerable amount of vocal and chamber music.