Turina Cpt Piano Trios IBS192022

Joaquin Turina (1882-1949)
Complete Piano Trios
Piano Trio in F major (1904)
Circulo, Op 91 (ca 1942)
Piano Trio No 1 in D major, Op 35 (1926)
Piano Trio No 2 in B minor, Op 76 (1933)
Patricia Arauzo (piano), David Mata (violin), Aldo Mata (cello)
rec. 2021, Auditorio Manuel de Falla, Granada, Spain
IBS Classical IBS192022 [69]

In principle, this is a very simple review to write. If you don’t know the trios of Joaquin Turina (but appreciate the genre and era), then buy this album because you will love the music and these performances are simply stunning. If you do know this music, buy this album because it sweeps away any other version you might have. Finito, no more required … except the editors of MWI would frown upon such a short review.

This has been sitting in my to-be-reviewed pile for a couple of months, because I knew it had already been reviewed very positively by Gary Higginson and so some “first review” releases took priority. It was only when I was reviewing another disc of Spanish piano trios, which included Turina’s B minor, that I listened to this IBS recording. I was immediately bowled over by both the sound quality (far better than the one I was reviewing, which trumpeted its audio quality) and the performances, and looked forward to properly listening to it in its own right.

I already knew and enjoyed Turina’s trios, and indeed his music in general, but the clarity and verve in these performances took the four works to a new level. The unnumbered F major trio is described as a student work, but it is far better than that label would imply. The D major Trio is a simply stunning piece, and deserves to be in every trio’s repertoire. I’ve never seen any reference to Ravel’s trio in my reading about the piece, but I do hear a connection, though the Turina, good as it is, is not at that exalted level, nor is it so emotionally wracked. The B minor trio is perhaps the least Spanish of the four pieces, more broadly European, while Circulo is the most impressionistic, three movements that portray the passing of a (Andalucian) day. It is widely considered to be the finest of his four trios, but I actually would put it at the tail of the field.

I don’t intend a work-by-work comparison of these performances with their competitors, the closest being Trio Arbós (Naxos – review) which has the same four works and the Lincoln Trio (Cedille – review) which has all Turina’s chamber music for piano and strings. Simply put, this IBS recording is far superior (though I must admit the extra pieces on the Cedille recording make it an attractive proposition).

As far as I can tell, this is the first time that these performers have recorded together, which I find quite extraordinary, given how well their ensemble playing has gelled. I certainly hope it will not be the last. Pianist Patricia Arauzo and cellist Aldo Mata are part of the Alborada Trio with clarinettist Miguel Expósito, so that does at least explain some of the connection. The sound quality is as good as I’ve heard, resonant, clear and exceptionally delineated without being artificially so. The booklet notes, in their English translation, do have a few unidiomatic instances, but I have read far, far worse (some cpo booklets come to mind) and they are comprehensive and informative.

This is exceptional in every way. My only regret is that it can’t be included in my 2024 Recordings of the Year, given its release was around twelve months ago.

David Barker

Previous review: Gary Higginson (April 2023)

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