GRANADOS: Piano Quintet; TURINA: Piano Quintet; Calliope – Javier Perianes, p./ Cuarteto Quiroga – Harmonia mundi

GRANADOS: Piano Quintet in g minor, Op. 49; TURINA: Piano Quintet in g minor, Op. 1; Calliope, Op. 93, No. 9 – Javier Perianes, piano/ Cuarteto Quiroga – Harmonia mundi HMC 902226, 51:20 (11/13/15) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi/PIAS] ****:

Two piano quintets with an Iberian sensibility.

Recorded February-March 2015, these two piano quintets by Granados and Turina – composed 1895 and 1907, respectively – combine their natural Iberian sensibility with French impulses refined by Franck and Faure. Enrique Granados had moved to Madrid in 1894, already fascinated by zarzuela and folk idioms. He claimed that his “ambition is to be in my country what Saint-Saens and Brahms are in theirs.” By 1898 Granados received the Cross of Carlos III in recognition of his gifts to Spanish music.

The Piano Quintet by Granados reveals a natural melodist and clever purveyor of Iberian rhythm who has no less mastered the fine art of polyphony. The first movement Allegro begins in marcato, unison voices, with a prominent keyboard part that evolves quickly and invites contrapuntal treatment of the main idea. The Allegretto quasi andantino, utilizing muted strings, proceeds with a slinky motif that has the Moorish affect preferred by Saint-Saens. The music modulates into A Major with a rarified serenity that might have been inspired by Schubert. Perianes and first violin Aitor Hevia combine for some finely honed harmonies, augmented by voluptuous tones from cello Helena Poggio. After an extremely brief moment, Largo, the finale bursts forth, Molto presto, galloping in a manner that Brahms urged from his own gypsy rhythms, in exactly the same key for his own Op. 25. The periodic interruptions into quiet episodes possess their own exotic color. The bravura element holds vigorous sway until the last page, when two rich chords in g minor end the beguiling musical luxuries.

Joaquin Turina had composed some miscellaneous works prior to his Piano Quintet, but he wished for this ambitious, four-movement work to stand as his official entry into publication. Turina’s training at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, 1905-1913, invests the piece with an antique sense of musical rigor, especially in its opening movement, Fuga lenta, based on a plainchant melody and treated with muted harmonic colors that anticipate Bartok even as they imitate impulses from Beethoven and Franck. The movement gains in ominous power, certainly due to the keyboard part in harmony with the viola (Josep Puchades) and the cello. Unsettling and darkly brooding, the movement testifies to the stringent demands that D’Indy made on his students in counterpoint.

Turina composed the second movement Anime in Seville, and it bears a decidedly contrasting mood that elects for moments of spontaneous, rapturous song. The fluent, virtuosic interplay between Perianes and the various members of the Caurteto Quiroga comes to us with hearty resonance provided by sound engineer Rene Moeller. The Andante-Scherzo, the first movement actually to have been composed in 1907, displays Turina’s penchant for lyric expression, much in the thoughtful, parlando style of Franck. The later designation, scherzo, enjoys a breezy nonchalance of expression, with well-crafted viola passages. The Final: Lentement – Assez vif consists, first, of highly declamatory chords from the piano and a violin, viola, and cello cadenza riff, almost a kind of Kreutzer Sonata for all of the strings. The main motif moves briskly and nervously to a fluent song much in the manner of Franck. The sonorous mix quite glows with refined energy and persuasive lyricism, a real discovery for those exploring Spanish chamber music for new treasures.

The four-and-one-half minute Caliope, a hymn to the Muse, derives from a 1942 cycle of nine such pieces, Las musas de Andalucia, for soprano and string quartet. This selection features the piano and string quartet. The work is dedicated to Joaquin Rodrigo. Concentrated as it is, the work proceeds by musical epiphanies Turina calls rafagas, flashes, that contain those martial, mystical elements we attribute to Schumann. A solemn opus, the work evolves in continuous, marcato song periods dependent upon Andalusian colors for their effect.

—Gary Lemco

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