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Phillip Scott
Fanfare, July 2012

This delightful disc contains three piano trios by 20th-century Catalan composers. The earliest…is by Roberto Gerhard…Fauré and Debussy are the primary influences in his trio: Fauré in the sinuous, barcarolle-like second movement, and Debussy in the third. An elegant antique strain in the first movement suggests the young Gerhard’s studies with the Spanish musicologist Felipe Pedrell. A Catalan warmth pervades all three movements…Although this work precedes Gerhard’s studies with Schoenberg and his subsequent move into modernism, it shows the high degree of craftsmanship that never deserted him.

Gaspar Cassadó…was famed as a cellist…His Piano Trio is one of his most significant works (along with three string quartets)…Musically it resembles the extrovert Spanish style of Turina, and is a worthy example to stand alongside the latter’s piano trios.

Montsalvatge’s textures are spare, much less fulsome than the sound pictures created by Gerhard and Cassadó. As in all his late works, the harmony is spiced with discordant intervals. Much use is made of harmonics in both string parts, while the piano part is more elaborate…The sharply rhythmic third movement forms a bracing conclusion to an interesting piece. Albert Ferrer Flamarich in his sleeve note states that “the work as a whole is a little uneven,” but I find it perfectly satisfying. It certainly makes a fine contrast as the centerpiece to this fascinating program, sensitively played by the Arriaga Trio (particularly pianist Daniel Ligorio) and warmly recorded by Naxos. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Brian Reinhart
MusicWeb International, May 2012

…the music here is all well worth a listen and the adventurous ear will be rewarded…

Roberto Gerhard’s Piano Trio No. 1 dates from early in his career, 1918, when he was still under the influence of the French impressionists. So strong was his loyalty to them at the time that he actually gave the movements French titles (e.g. a vif finale). And they do sometimes feel French, notably at the beginning of the finale, where the main theme will sound very familiar to anyone who knows Ravel’s string quartet. Mostly, though, one is impressed by the relaxed tunefulness of the music but frustrated when it occasionally feels a little too relaxed. The slow movement, songlike and flowing, is the highlight.

Montsalvatge’s Piano Trio, from 1986-88, could be fairly accused of cheating. It is the product of two separate commissioned works which the composer yoked together for publication, and even the booklet note sighs that its movements do not really fit together. There is an aloof song for Dulcinea (of Don Quijote fame), a spare, eloquent homage to Federico Mompou, and a final ritornello-style movement with a brief outbreak of traditional Spanish dance material.

Gaspar Cassadó’s trio is more explicitly ethnically Spanish from the very first chords, and it should be an easy sell to any listener who enjoys their Albéniz, Falla, or Rodrigo. It appeared on a recital album last year from the Devich Trio, coupled with more outright nationalistic works in the same vein by Turina, Granados, and Arbós. The Devich Trio’s approach to Cassadó was much slower, more romantic, and more emotionally luscious, and I retain a soft spot for it. The Trio Arriaga seems a little colder and more “objective” here and in the Gerhard.

The Trio Arriaga are able to adapt themselves well to the styles of Gerhard and Montsalvatge…this is a fine sampler for the adventurous (tapas?). © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, May 2012

'Dialogo con Mompou’…opens with string harmonics that somehow sound like chimes; the movement is a stately meditation. II really does sound like a discussion between friends, complete with thematic rabbit trails and some interesting glissando effects presented without exploitation. Cassado’s Piano Trio in C begins with a dramatic yet yearning Allegro Risoluto. II, a proud movement, has the most overtly Iberian writing on the record. III is playful, with a childish scatter-mindedness to it.

The Trio Arriaga has a great warmth to their playing…anything at or below a mezzo-forte is beautiful…The sound is good… © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

MusicWeb International, April 2012

The Trio Arriaga open their recital with Gerhard’s Trio…This lengthy tripartite work is strongly lyrical, often sensual…It is a pleasing, relatively undemanding work…

Xavier Montsalvatge’s much later Piano Trio…—dreamy, restrained, melodic, in many way…most listeners should find thoroughly appealing, with the finale indeed rather memorably jaunty.

Gaspar Cassadó’s Trio is…the most original and most powerful work on the CD by a distance. Considerably more virtuosic than the first two, it is also decidedly more Spanish-sounding, thanks especially to its native folk rhythms, which recall the likes of Granados and Turina.

As for the Trio Arriaga here, they deliver strong, expressive performances, particularly of the Cassadó, with intuitive ensemble give-and-take and a mature sound. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2012

Three piano trios from Catalan composers make for an unusual and most welcome coupling. It was Roberto Gerhard’s years spent in England that placed him on the international map as a major Spanish composer, the Piano Trio being an ‘odd ball’ in having come from his early years—he was twenty-two at the time—and is totally unrepresentative of his later move to a modernism that matched the mood of the 1930’s. Indeed you will hear reference to Falla’s Seven Spanish Popular Songs in the Trio’s opening movement, the style of the score an amalgam of French Impressionism and Spanish influences. Dare I say that without Gerhard’s name—and his later association with the avant garde—this delightful and often intensely beautiful score may have found a ready place in the repertoire. The Xavier Montsalvatge Trio is—in its basic mood—the work you might have expected from the mature Gerhard. Gaspar Cassado’s name will remain in musical circles as one of the great cellist of the early 20th century. His Piano Trio comes from the late 1920’s, its sensuality and long flowing melodic invention making it rather special, the happy finale well worth the price of the disc. Trio Arriaga are the highly persuasive advocates…their playing is first class. The well balanced recording adds to my strong recommendation.

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