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Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Sonata romántica sobre un tema español, Op. 3 (1909) [20:28]
Sonata Fantasía, Op. 59 (1930) [12:34]
Rincón mágico (Desfile en forma de sonata), Op. 97 (1941) [24:00]
Concierto sin orquesta, Op. 88 (1935) [10:45]
Jordi Masó, piano
rec. Auditorium Jafre, Spain, 5-6 July 2004. DDD
NAXOS 8.557438 [67:47]

Turina was one of a number of Spanish composers to come of age in the early years of the twentieth century. He found himself heavily under the influence of the then-new French music that came to be called Impressionistic. After the premiere of his piano quintet, in France in 1907, his countryman Albéniz was to corner him and insist that although his new work was very fine and would surely be published, he must never again write music that was not influenced by the folk music of his native Andalusia. In spite of his great admiration for Albéniz, and his valiant efforts to make his music more Spanish, the influence of France was never far from the surface in his later works.

In this installment of the ongoing Naxos Spanish music series, we explore four significant works for solo piano by Turina, each beautifully crafted, moody, virtuosic and original in its own unique way. In the Sonata Romantica, the composer follows the advice of his elder mentor and bases the work on the Spanish folk song El vito, going so far as to compose a theme and variations for its first movement. The homage to his mentor is significant as Turina was mourning Albénizís recent death while he composed it. This is a solid work, and although there is never an absence of melody, there is also a tremendous drama to the piece. Above all, one gets a great sense of the warm and lovely Spanish countryside, and its calm and never hurried way of life.

The Sonata Fantasia is a much more expressive work, dedicated to the music critic and historian Josep Subrià. The remarkable slow introductions are packed with arching melodic lines and deep rich harmonies, offset by the occasional burst of energy.

Rincón mágico, or ĎMagic cornersí are little reflections on the private places in which the composer enjoyed quiet private time. In reality they are four little character pieces grouped together to form a sonata, but each of the movements would stand alone without difficulty as a miniature portrait of the composerís thoughts.

A neglected work, the Concerto without orchestra is the most blatantly showy piece on the program and although the virtuosity is never carried overboard, there is still a great deal here with which to show off the pianistís fingers.

Jordi Masó has ample technique and a fine sense of taste. He uses an enormous palette of colors in his performances, and always maintains an underlying carpet of good taste and finesse, even when the music calls for more of a flashy display. He is obviously quite at home with the music of his own country, but it is also evident that he is well acquainted with the music of Debussy and his circle, music the influence of which is blatantly obvious from the first notes.

Kudos to Naxos for continuing to be leaders in the release of interesting music at a bargain price. Their constant expansion of the readily available library of music may well become a Denkmal of western civilization.

Kevin Sutton



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