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Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Piano Music 1

Danzas fantásticas Op.22 (1919)
Tres danzas andaluzas Op.8 (1912)
Danzas gitanas Op.55 (1929-30)
Danzas gitanas Op.84 (1934)
Dos danzas sobre temas populares españolas Op.41 (1926)
Bailete; Suite de danzas del siglio XIX Op.79 (1933)
Jordi Masó (piano)
Recorded in the Auditorium, Jafre, Spain, April 2003
NAXOS 8.557150 [70.27]

It’s disappointing though understandable given their brevity, that not more of Turina’s piano pieces have been accepted into the international mainstream. Some here, such as the Danzas fantásticas, will be known rather better from their orchestral guise but all are imbued with native Andalusian colour and rhythm. Turina looked to the lead of Albéniz for new directions in the path of Spanish music in the early twentieth century.

He certainly shared something of De Falla’s approach. In the first of the Danzas fantásticas an initial impressionist drizzle gives way to Jota rhythms and a sense of colour and passion whilst in the second Masó drives the bass hard. Iberia certainly haunts the outline of these Op.22 settings but nowhere more evocatively than in Orgía, the last movement where it becomes (creatively) explicit. In a much earlier set, the Op.8 Tres danzas andaluzas, dating from 1908, we can hear Turina characterising national dance forms with immediacy and powerful concentration – such as the tango which is imbued with Parisian tristesse (the work was written there). But a more, purely characterful, use of these forms comes later, and one needs to look at something like the Op.55 set of Gypsy Dances to hear how elliptically and limpidly Turina could evoke the Ritual Dance. Or indeed to the 1934 Danzas gitanas in which his development was consolidated; here the impressionist harmonies give richness and depth to the set. The Invovación is particularly Debussian, except for the little central panel, and it gives vertical depth to Turina’s harmonies and adds piquancy and colour. In the suite of nineteenth century dances the standout is surely the game of rhythmic displacement in the Danza de corte but they are all attractive and with almost all of Turina’s piano music, very short.

I’ve reviewed a disc by Masó before and I remain impressed by the Barcelona-born musician. He has a good, crisp touch and an active command of the idiom. What’s slightly less pleasing is something beyond his control; the recorded sound is slightly too resonant and the Naxos engineers have not succeeded in focusing it properly. It’s a shame but certainly not an insuperable problem.

Jonathan Woolf

see also reviews by Steve Arloff and Patrick Waller

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