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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Sinfonía Sevillana (pub 1920)
Danzas fantásticas (1920)
Ritmos (Fantasía coreográfica) (1928)
La procession del Rocío (1913)
Castile and León Symphony Orchestra/Max Bragado Darman
Recorded Teatro Carrión, Valladolid 1994-98
NAXOS 8.555955 [61.47]


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Turina’s pastoralism, pictorialism, colouristic impressionism – call it what you will – boils down to several things and one of them is this; he was a wonderful orchestrator. Time and again listening to this really delightful disc I smiled at the sheer rightness of the string and wind writing, the way the textures are never clotted, the skill with which every strand is given a glinting life, the weave and fleck of light, the extrapolation of the most lucid of textures.

The Sinfonía Sevillana was published in 1920 and this three-movement evocation of Andalusia is bathed in impressionist languor and drama. Panorama, the first movement, opens in a succulent impressionistic haze – so rich and deep you can smell it – with increasing shafts of rhythmic motion ushering in glorious layers of string and warm brass. Lest one mistakes this for generalized pictorialism there are so many nooks and crannies in Turina’s utterly deceptive orchestration that the music keeps quiveringly alive: the art – Parisian style, via the Schola Cantorum – that conceals art. The second panel, Por el río Guadalquivir (By the river Guadalquivir) starts with a violin solo, expressive and very well played here, and some wind/brass exchanges. The orchestration here is again sumptuous – aerated and not lazily impressionistic and opening into affectionate directness as it develops. The Fiesta finale is evocative and lyrical, packed with melodic contrast and Iberian colour – sultry, cool or both and closing with a joyful brass peroration.

Danzas fantásticas again dates from the immediate post First War period as Turina gained instrumental and orchestral mastery over his material and found a means through which to channel it. Based on the Jota (think de Falla) there is more gorgeous vibrancy and affectionate swing in the opening of the three movements and some piquant wind writing in the second – Ensueño – with its insouciant rhythm and flowing ease. The finale – a farruca dance – suggests flamenco and torrid nights, revelling once more in the orchestral choirs and sectional writing – the furtive winds suggestively strong over running lower string pizzicati; great colour once more and oozing life.

Ritmos – a ballet – was intended for ballerina Antonia Mercé but in the end had to do with life in the concert hall and was first performed by the Orquesta Pau Casals, conducted by the composer himself. The various dance forms embedded in the score make for vibrant – and sometimes sorrowing – fluidity (the Danza lejana is especially well orchestrated in this respect) and the rhythms generate their own teeming and choreographed life. Finally La processión del Rocío, Turina’s first (1912) orchestral work – a symphonic poem of warmth and affectionate pictorialism that takes in village life and impressionistic verdancy in abundance.

Darman directs his forces with real acumen and care; sectional balance is maintained but there’s a burnish to the playing that is both attractive and evocative. Turina has seldom seemed so palpable and so alive.

Jonathan Woolf

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