Estilo Español
Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949) Círculo, Op 91 (1936) [9:42]
Gaspar CASSADÓ (1897-1966) Piano Trio (1926/9) [18:28]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) Intermezzo from Goyescas (1913) [4:37]
Enrique Fernández ÁRBOS (1863-1939) Tres Piezas Originales en Estilo Español [19:23]
Devich Trio
rec. July 2010, FWL Studios, Leipzig, Germany

I’ve only just returned from a holiday to Barcelona and rather thankfully, did not encounter anyone wearing the costume on the cover of this disc. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear any classical music this good on my trip, either. The closest I got was taking a photo of a street named after “Enric Granados”.

Enric Granados appears here, as one of four composers in an intriguing and off-the-beaten-path program of Spanish works for piano trio. All are very charmingly in the Spanish style, and all are played with brio and fire by the Devich Trio.

The disc begins with Joaquín Turina’s Círculo, a roughly ten-minute piece in three movements. Those who know Turina from his Sinfonia sevillana or his buoyant, glittering piano works will be surprised by the dark expressiveness of the first movement, aptly subtitled “Dawn” and dominated at first by a searching cello solo. True to the title’s promise, though, the sun soon rises and the whole trio bring the movement to a rousing close. “Mediodía (Noon)” is quite clearly inspired by flamenco and other folk dances, and is a lot of fun. The finale, “Dusk,” naturally winds down to a satisfying fadeout into the night sky.

The next work is a piano trio by the Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassadó, an excellent work full of Spanish color and great writing for all three instruments. But it should not be written off as a collection of Spanishisms: this is a serious trio, with a hefty, dramatic first movement that builds, thanks to the bold playing of the Devich Trio, to a really massive climax at around 6:30. The slow movement bears enigmatic Arabic influences, and the finale, opening with a recitative in which violin and cello mimic Spanish spoken word, perhaps, is especially striking. Cassadó also supplies an arrangement of Enrique Granados’ contribution, the intermezzo from his opera Goyescas. A fairly well-known work, this, but a mere pleasing trifle compared to the sizzling pieces it sits in between.

On the other side is Enrique Arbós’ Trez piezas originales, Op 1. Arbós is probably best-known today for orchestrating some of Albeniz’ monumental suite Iberia, but this is a formidable composition in its own right. The opening bolero is flashy, fiery, but romantic too, very much an attention-getter. The central habanera, slightly more relaxed, seduces in a different way. The finale, Seguidillas Gitanas, is a scintillating dance structured a bit like a scherzo, with the fast sections evoking the clicking of dancing shoes.

In other words, this is a fine bit of musical tourism. The program is well-planned and extremely well-executed by the Devich Trio, who are clearly having a lot of fun. The playing time is comparatively short, but the structure of the recital is wholly satisfying, and the four works on offer feel just right for an aural holiday. If you like what you hear in this recital, do try to check out Tomás Bretón’s Four Spanish Pieces, a similar suite of richly folkloric music played with aplomb (but recorded harshly) on a Naxos disc with the LOM Piano Trio. But this is such an easy recommendation that I need only praise the stylish presentation, gripe slightly about the flattering artist-centric liner notes, and comment on the natural sound which affords each player equal prominence, before sending you off to your shopping cart.

Brian Reinhart

A well-planned recital of Spanish trios, executed with brio and passion.