BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert at Wigmore Hall – Piano Quintets by Granados & Brahms – Javier Perianes & Cuarteto Quiroga

Piano Quintet in G minor, H112/Op.49
Piano Quintet in F minor, Op.34

Javier Perianes (piano) & Cuarteto Quiroga [Aitor Hevia & Cibrán Sierra (violins), Josep Puchades (viola) & Helena Poggio (cello)]

Reviewed by: Peter Reed

Reviewed: 14 November, 2016
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Javier Perianes & Cuarteto QuirogaPhotograph: cuartetoquiroga.comJavier Perianes is always worth hearing. He is as consistently interesting and involving in Classical repertoire as he is in the music of late-Romantic Spanish and French composers. In this Wigmore Hall/BBC Radio 3 lunchtime recital, he joined forces with the excellent Cuarteto Quiroga, based in Madrid, in two Piano Quintets. It’s a genre-breaking medium, caught between chamber-music rapport and, frequently, piano-concerto aspirations, with the works by Granados and Brahms comfortably inhabiting both areas.

Granados was particularly satisfied with this piece because he felt that he had opened out the Spanish idiom, but its respectable fugal element in the first movement is less interesting than the dream of a slow, Moorish-inflected movement and a quirky Finale, full of rhythmic games and destabilising pauses on the back of a masterly balance between piano and string quartet and the strong light-and-shade contrasts that make Spanish music so vibrant.

The Quiroga members’ tone turned darker and more resinous in a finely judged and muscular account of the Brahms, with Perianes going out of his way to assert the piano as first among equals without overstressing his colleagues in a barrage of sound. The first movement had terrific momentum, and the Scherzo excitingly hedged its bets between intimate manners and symphonic oratory. Perianes is a chamber-music natural, adept at judging the minutiae of advance and retreat, and unafraid to let the piano’s weight of sound off the leash when required. The physicality of his playing works powerfully well with Cuarteto Quiroga’s lean, cultivated sound and honed ensemble.

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