I've listened to this CD every day for the past week. I can't get enough of it.
The Piano Quintet is one of the most stunningly wonderful pieces I've come across in a long time. It's like middle-period Faure' on steroids - lush, extravagantly beautiful harmonies, but much more extroverted. The melodic and harmonic gestures are huge and generous - maybe what you'd expect from an Italian-American born in Philadelphia. The CD doesn't say when the piece was composed, but the composer was born in 1903. From the style and ardor, I'd guess it was written in the 1930s or 1940s, but its sound world is more like the turn of the century -- that glorious efflorescence of late romanticism among composers bursting with symphonic ambition even in their chamber music. The intensity level is comparable to that of the Brahms Piano Quintet. The harmonic language is at times somewhat reminiscent of the Piano Quintets that Leo Ornstein and Ernst Bloch wrote in the 1920s. (The Ornstein Piano Quintet is a sublime combination of Ravel and Rachmaninoff - see my review of the thrilling Janice Weber/Lydian Quartet CD, Leo Ornstein: Piano Quintet: String Quartet No. 3.)
Imagine the best of 19th century French elegance and pleasure, married (happily) to the best of 20th century American dynamism and Italian emotional abundance and sheer joy.
And the performance is simply amazing. It's powerful, ardent, urgent, plangent, open-hearted, spirited, as well as immaculate and perfectly pitched, both musically and dramatically. After my third or fourth hearing in as many days, it struck me just how absolutely perfect this performance is.
Evidently the piece was uncovered by ... the violist! (Ariel Rudiakov - he deserves special mention for this.) He and his stringed companions are superb, as is the fleet and muscular pianist. (It's a very flashy piano part.) I look forward to hearing more from them, playing music written by anybody, but I'd REALLY love to hear more Giannini. (The aforementioned violist is also a conductor, possibly increasing the possibilities.)
PS - I played Giannini's Symphony No. 3 for Band many years ago. I liked it alot, but this Piano Quintet is something else altogether. I also have the Naxos CD with Giannini's Piano Concerto and Symphony No. 4 (Giannini: Piano Concerto; Symphony No. 4), which I also liked, but again, this Piano Quintet is simply in another league.