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Spanish Impressions (Hermitage Piano Trio) (Music Review)


The Album
The Audio
The Supplements


A set of four piano trios composed by four of Spain's greatest composers from the early 20th century receives sympathetic and brilliant realizations by the Hermitage Piano Trio.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The four Spanish composers represented in this quartet of piano trios were all born in the 19th century and remained active well into the 20th century.  The two best known, Enrique Arbós and Joaquin Turina, were a violinist-conductor and pianist, respectively, while Mariano Perelló was an accomplished violinist and Gaspar Cassadó, a world-renowned cellist and contemporary of legendary Spanish cellist Pablo Casals.  The program’s trios are infused with music rooted in Spanish folk and traditional tunes.  Arbós’s Trois Pieces dans le genre Espagnol and Perelló’s Tres Impressiones para violin, violincello y piano are the most obvious examples of Spanish musical influences but the rhythms of Spanish dances are clearly represented in Turina’s Piano Trio No.2 in B minor. Cassadó’s Piano Trio in C Major presents in Spanish and Catalan flavors in its very dramatic shifts in tempos.

A detailed playlist follows:

Arbós, Enrique Fernández (1863–1939)

Trois Pièces originales dans le genre Espagnol (Three Spanish Dances), Op. 1 (1886) 18:25

  1. Bolero(Tempo di Bolero) 4:39
  2. Habanera(Allegretto moderato) 6:36
  3. Seguidillas Gitanas(Allegro ma non troppo) 7:10 

Turina, Joaquín (1882-1949)

Piano Trio No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 76 (1932/33) 14:45

  1. Lento 6:33
  2. Molto Vivace 2:34
  3. Lento 5:38

Cassadó, Gaspar (1897-1966)

Piano Trio in C Major (1926) 19:26

  1. Allegro risoluto 8:07
  2. Tempo moderato e pesante 5:47
  3. Recitativo, Moderato ed appassionato 5:32

Perelló, Mariano (1886-1960)

Tres Impresiones para violin, violincello y piano (1922) 16:08

  1. Pensando en Albéniz (Poco allegro) 4:59
  2. Capricho Andaluz (Allegro) 4:20
  3. Escena Gitana (Allegro) 6:49

The members of the Hermitage Piano Trio are three Russian-born and US-based musicians—violinist Mischa Keylin, cellist Sergey Antonov, and pianist Ilya Kazantsev—who have been performing together for more than a decade and have previously released an all-Rachmaninoff disc on Reference Recordings. As this recording’s producers Victor and Marina Ledin state: “For the last several years we have been exchanging scores, ideas and developing programs. The trio had been performing two extraordinary Spanish trios by Turina and Cassado—romantic, exotic and lush works. Using these two works as anchor points, we built around them as “bookends”—three Spanish dances by Arbos and three Spanish impressions by Perello. All four composers are interconnected to one another through their interpersonal relationships.”

The Audio

This recording is available in a number of two-channel audio formats including a Red Book CD (HDCD-encoded) and FLAC, WAV, and Apple Lossless downloads with resolutions ranging from 44.1kHz/16-bit to 176.4kHz/24-bit. Recording sessions were held in Marin County California’s Skywalker Sound Studio from April 11-14, 2023 and the program booklet photo shows the relatively close placement of the violin on the left, the piano in the center, and cello on the right.  What comes across in all versions of these performances is the near-perfect balance of the three contrasting instruments and the intrinsic warmth of a live performance. While the pianist sits behind the two string players, his instrument asserts itself when the score requires its presence.  The 176.4kHz/24-bit version is clearly the best way to realize the outstanding openness of the sonics this starry trio generates.

The Supplements

A 28-page program booklet has the Ledins providing excellent biographical summaries of each composer who receives an attractive photograph and a detailed description of each trio’s three movements. There are also photos and mini-bios of the three performers. To  add more flavor to the mix, there is a sketch of an Andalusian couple in typical dress of the period.

The Final Assessment

These four Spanish piano trios may be unfamiliar to most classical music aficionados—as they were to me—but there are numerous riches to be gained from hearing them realized by such talented musicians who receive outstanding recording studio support. Highest recommendation.

Spanish Impressions (Hermitage Piano Trio) is out 15 September 2023 from Reference Recordings.

  • Label: Reference Recordings
  • Artist: Hermitage Piano Trio
  • Producers: Victor and Marina Ledin
  • Run Time: 68 Mins.
  • Street Date: 15 September 2023
  • Audio Format: 2.0 Stereo 44kHz/16-bit (HDCD-encoded disc) to WAV/FLAC/Apple Lossless (176.4kHz/24-bit) downloads

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A set of four piano trios composed by four of Spain's greatest composers from the early 20th century receives sympathetic and brilliant realizations by the Hermitage Piano Trio.Spanish Impressions (Hermitage Piano Trio) (Music Review)