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Sones y Danzones
Luis GIANNEO (1897-1968)
Dos Danzas Argentinas:
Güeya [4:49]
Baqilecito [4:49]
Leo BROUWER (b.1939) Sones y Danzones (1992)
Danzón [6:05]
Son de “La Niña Bonita” [7:57]
Contradanza sonera [7:58] Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909) arr. Karl RISSLAND
Tango, Op. 165, no.2 [2:56]
Luis GIANNEO (1897-1968)
Segundo Trio [25:07]
Enrique Fernández ARBÓS (1863-1939)
Habanera (From Tres piezas españolas, Op.1) (c.1886) [8:08]
Astor PIAZZOLA (1921-1991)
Oblivion (Milonga) [3:38]
La Muerte del Ángel [3:37]
Trío Arbós: Juan Carlos Garvayo (piano), Miguel Borrego (violin), José Miguel Gómez (cello)
rec. May 2003, Auditorium of the Conservatorio de Getafe, Madrid
ENSAYO ENY-CD-9821 [75:04]


A delightful programme of dance-inspired chamber music from Spain and Latin America; perhaps none of the music is especially profound, but it is all melodically and rhythmically infectious, sophisticated music which gets top-class performances from the Trío Arbós, one of Spain’s finest chamber ensembles.

In his Sones y Danzones – which gives the CD its title – the Cuban Leo Brouwer plays some inventive games with Cuban musical traditions, cross-referencing the habanera and the zapateado with allusions to /quotations from Stravinsky and Shostakovich. The results are playful but also rather beautiful; they demand attention and surprise the listener more than once. The Trío Arbós play the pieces with evident affection and understanding.

The Argentinian composer Luis Gianneo is represented by his two ‘Danzas Argentinas’ and his second Piano Trio. Gianneo was born in Buenos Aires of Italian stock. Active as a player, composer, teacher and administrator, working for many years in the northern Argentinian city of San Miguel de Tucumán, his musical enthusiasms included Debussy, Respighi and Stravinsky. In the two pieces we hear on this present CD such European influences, while they may be apparent, largely take second place to the reworking of popular dance forms and rhythms native (insofar as any such patterns are ever ‘native’ in the sense of belonging exclusively to a single country) of Argentina. The two dances which begin the programme are quite enchanting, the first, ‘Güeya’, full of lilting rhythms and graceful melodic turns, the second a witty bailecito full of changes of tempo and which, for all its elegance, also remembers the form’s Creole origins. The three movements of Gianneo’s Second Piano Trio (the first is apparently lost) carry classical descriptors (andante-lento-allegro energico) but the music owes as much to Latin dance rhythms – notably those of the tango, the pericon and the habanera – as it does to classical models. The whole is a rather impressive piece and it would be interesting to hear more of Gianneo’s work – there is very little in the catalogue at present.

A rather more fashionable Argentinian composer – Astor Piazzolla – is also represented by two pieces, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘La Muerte del Ángel’, both arranged for piano trio by the cellist José Bragato. The soulful melody of ‘Oblivion’ works particularly well in this arrangement and that of ‘La Muerte del Ángel’ makes for music of considerable passion, shaped expressively by Trío Arbós. Perhaps it is the context of a programme full of inter-continental connections that makes these arrangements prompt more awareness that Piazzolla studied with Nadia Boulanger than one usually carries away from listening to his music.

The homeland of the Trío Arbós is represented by two composers – Albeniz and the figure who gave the Trio its name, Enrique Fernandez Arbós. Arbós’s ‘Habanera’ comes from the composer’s ‘Trois pieces originales dans le genre Espagnol’, which, according to the booklet notes by Juan Carlos Garvayo, was a suite which was played by the touring trio (in the 1890s) made up of Arbós, a great violinist, Albéniz at the piano and David Popper playing cello! It is a moody piece, full of rich harmonies and of opportunities for expressive effects – opportunities which Trío Arbós accept, without abusing them. This is very much salon music of its period – but it is a fine example of its kind.

Originally written for piano, Albéniz’s ‘Tango’ is here played in a trio arrangement by Karl Rissland, published in Boston in 1918 – presumably the same man as the viola player on some Mischa Elman recordings of approximately that date? Though called ‘Tango’ it is actually another habanera, another salon piece of real charm, rather more economical in its effects than that by Arbós.

So, no great profundity here, though in the music of Gianneo and Brouwer, in particular, there is work of some genuine substance. But nothing is without its charms, nothing is devoid of a real terpsichorean spirit, as played by the excellent Trío Arbós, whose utterly persuasive, even seductive, performances benefit from a warm, but clear, recorded sound.

Glyn Pursglove


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