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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Piano Trio, Op. 50 [24:44]
Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 49 (1894) [15:49]
Goyescas: Intermezzo (arr. for trio by Gaspar Cassadó) [4:52]
LOM Piano Trio (Joan Orpella (violin), José Mor (cello), Daniel Ligorio (piano)); Manuel Porta Gallego (violin) Joaquín Riquelme García (viola)
rec. 2007/8, L’Auditorium, Jafre-Girona, Spain
Reviewed as 320k mp3 download.
NAXOS 8.572262 [45:34]

I thought myself fairly well versed in the piano trios and quintets – my two favourite chamber combinations – of the well-known composers, but these two had slipped through the net until now. Mind you, record labels haven’t exactly been flooding the market with recordings either. ArkivMusic lists four recordings of the trio and three of the quintet.

Both of the main works here come from the same year, in a decade when Granados was establishing himself both as a composer and concert pianist. It was during this period that he was part of a piano trio that had Pablo Casals as its cellist.

Not unexpectedly, the two pieces have a great deal in common. They are on the lighter end of the spectrum for their era, but don’t be misled into thinking that they are simple salon pieces. The Spanish flavour is there, but not strongly so. They overflow with beautiful melodies, particularly in the piano part, again not unexpectedly. Find this recording on one of the online sites that offers a preview — or on the Naxos Music Library, if you have access — and listen to the opening minute or so of the trio: a seemingly simple, but quite breathtakingly lovely piano melody begins the piece. Not convinced yet: try the second movement of the quintet. The Cassadó arrangement of the Intermezzo from Goyescas is more often heard in its cello and piano version – this is a fine way to finish the recording.

This isn’t a new release, as can be seen from the catalogue number and recording dates. The competition in each work is small, but each has a big name: the Beaux Arts Trio (trio) and Martha Argerich and friends from the 2010 Lugarno festival (quintet). I doubt the performances by this all-Spanish group would be shaded too much by their notable rivals, and you get both works on the same disc here. Even in the mp3 format, the sound quality is very detailed and immediate, as though one was in the front few rows at a concert. The booklet notes are typical of Naxos – succinct but informative. My only gripe would be the short playing time. It is true that Granados wrote little chamber music and that the few short works for violin and piano appear elsewhere on Naxos, but there is a Madrigal for cello and piano that could have been included.

David Barker