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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Chamber Music with Piano
Piano Trio Op. 50 (1895) [25:55]
Madrigal for cello and piano (1915) [5:51]
Danza gallega for cello and piano (1899) [5:07]
Trova for cello and piano (1912) [6:43]
Romanza for violin and piano [5:39]
Tres preludios for violin and piano (undated) [3:27]
Sonata for violin and piano (1895) [19:47]
Trio Rodin (Carles Puig (violin), Esther García (cello), Jorge Mengotti (piano))
rec. Kulturni Center Lopze Bratuž, Gorica, 2-3 June 2013
ÆVEA AE16013 [72:25]

When it comes to the music of the Spanish composer Enrique Granados, many people do not get past his piano music and especially the suite, Goyescas. I have always thought this a real shame. So much of his music is worth exploring. I myself have always enjoyed the operatic Goyescas when compared to the piano version. The present disc (see a previous review) proves my point about worthy music. It presents, as the title suggests, Granados’s chamber music with piano, with the glaring omission of the Piano Quintet. This is music of great charm and interest, presented in a manner that will hopefully win new devotees to this overlooked part of the composer’s art.

The first work is Piano Trio Op. 50 from 1895. It is the best known piece on this disc, with two other recordings I am familiar with. The older of the two, by the Piano Trio Salzburg on CPO (999 365-2), is for me the least successful. It sounds too polished and Central-European. The LOM Piano Trio on Naxos (8.572262) are better advocates for the work, but the present recording wins for me. It is especially true for the last two movements. The Duetto: Andante con sentiment is just that bit slower, and that allows the music to breathe. On the other hand, Finale: Molto allegro is a touch brisker, allowing the bravura character of the music to come to the fore. This might not be a “Spanish” work, but Granados’s character is felt throughout this stylish and attractive piece.

The Trio is followed by three short works for cello and piano. These came as something of a surprise to me, even if the first of them, the Madrigal, also appears on the CPO disc. Here the marginally faster tempo of the Trio Rodin count. This moderately slow work sounds fresh, compared to a bit stodgy playing of the Salzburg group. The central piece of the three is for me the most attractive. The Danza gallega, like the other two a transcription of an earlier work, is a charming dance with a certain Spanish charm and elegance. The third piece, simply called Trova, is based upon a story of a troubadour. It is interesting, with the slow cello part written over a more figured piano.

The Romanza heralds a series of works for violin and piano. It is perhaps the piece that, as the notes suggest, sounds the most likely composed for a salon: a simple melodic line with a contrasting middle section makes this a charming short work.

The Tres preludios are three very short preludes which are over in a flash. The first is a charming, almost English-sounding, gondola song. The second is the most substantial of the three [1:26]. A more agitated piano line at first leads to a more song-like tune. The third is a slow, almost meditative, piece.

The Sonata for violin and piano (1895) has been drawn together from unedited music, and could be described as a “what if” piece of music. The lilting first movement is the only part of the sonata to have seen the light of day (it is included on the CPO disc). Carles Puig and Jorge Mengotti have a clear advantage over their rivals because their tone is so much better. It is thanks to the research done by the Trio Rodin, who have searched the archives, that we have the subsequent three movements. No matter that they are incomplete or edited, we get an insight into the composer’s mind. I am led to wonder, however, what might have been if these movements had been passed to someone to edit and arrange before the recording. Still, having the composer’s initial thoughts is an important plus.

I greatly enjoyed this recording. The playing is first-rate throughout. Whether as a trio or in the two pairings, the Trio Rodin should be commended. The recorded sound is very good, although there are times when Carles Puig can be heard breathing, which I know some people do not like. The booklet notes are good, even though one gets a sense that they are clearly a translation. They are still, however, informative and add to the enjoyment of this music. Yes, the Piano Quintet is Granados’s undoubted masterpiece when it comes to his chamber music, but this disc shows that there is more to enjoy.

Stuart Sillitoe

Previous reviews: Stephen Barber ~ David Barker



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