* * * "Spanish Piano Trios" Bekova Trio Chandos
As this recording reminds us, the piano trio tradition can be a modest instrumental package with big ambitions; the three distinct voices conspiring toward a whole larger than the sum of its parts. Or at least that's the upshot on this recording of works by Spanish composers, dating from the twilight of the 19th century through 1933 but reflecting an attitude of late Romanticism flecked with touches from an Impressionist palette. Most notably, the disc offers the premiere recording of the Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello by composer and cellist Gaspar Cassado (1897-1966), who performed in piano trio settings. This work, circa 1926, is an engaging Iberian heart-on-sleeve piece, brimming with Spanish elements of rhythmic rigor and tightly woven harmony in the string parts. It deserves to be heard, performed and broadcast. A focused program, the recording continues in a similar musical vein, with Enrique Granados' sweeping Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Opus 50, a meal in itself. Two 1934 works by Joaquin Turina--the "Circulo ... Fantasia for Piano, Violin and Cello, Opus 91" and his Trio No. 2 in B minor, Opus 76--close the recording in a flourish of emotive tonal themes. Hailing from Kazakhstan, the sisters Bekova have no trouble breathing the proper expressive life into this material, embracing its late Romantic spirit and easing into Spanish melodic sway. Each possesses a conspicuous individual skill, but here none emerges victorious. They play as one, as the music dictates.