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Giuseppe MARTUCCI (1856-1909)
Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, op. 62 (1883) [41:00]
Piano Trio No. 1 in C major, op. 59 (1882) [33:42]
Trio Vega (Domenico Codispoti (piano), Marc Paquin (violin), Orfilia Saiz Vega (cello))
rec. 2014, Auditorio Manuel de Falla, Granada, Spain
NAXOS 8.573438 [74:42]

Giuseppe Martucci was one of those brave souls who endeavoured to make a name for himself in opera-crazy late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italy by composing symphonies and chamber music. Naxos - following the early example of ASV - has released four CDs of his orchestral music, centred around the two symphonies and two piano concertos. Naxos now move on to his chamber music, of which there are these two trios, a piano quintet and a number of short pieces for piano and violin or cello.

The second trio is placed first on the CD for no obvious reason. They were written within a year of one another, and hence not surprisingly are quite similar. Were one not paying attention to the passage of movements, it might be difficult to discern when one work finishes and the next starts. That is intended purely as an observation, rather than a criticism. Both works are genial and enjoyable listening, though rather lacking in memorable moments. They owe an obvious debt to Brahms, though lacking the drama and intensity - as well as the glorious melodies. The First is far and away the better of the two. At over forty minutes, the Second really doesn't have the musical interest to sustain its more than forty minute span.

There is only one other recording to my knowledge of these two trios together, that by Trio Mezzena-Bonucci on Dynamic CD132. It is no longer available as a physical CD. I don't hear much difference between it and this new recording in either performance or audio quality. There is another version of the First, on Claves (509210), but it is far too slow. I'm fairly sure that a top-notch trio could make more of these works, but the chances of Trio Wanderer or the Sitkovetsky Trio recording these any time soon are slim. If these works interest you, and you don't already have the Dynamic recording, I would commend this new one. While I haven't been bowled over by these works, I'm certainly hoping that Naxos will continue their support of Martucci and give us the quintet and the duos.

David Barker


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