is just a year since I welcomed the first volume of Turina’s
piano music from Jordi Masó (see review).
The emphasis there was on the dance form and much of the music
was also orchestrated by the composer and better known in the
orchestral versions. This new disc focuses on sonatas and music
which will live or die on the piano.
Sonata Romántica is an early work retaining some
of the influences that Turina absorbed during his period in
Paris. It also incorporates elements from his native Andalusia that were to become increasingly
important in his music. There are three movements – theme and
variations; scherzo and a finale with a slow introduction. The
work was dedicated to the memory of Isaac Albéniz whom Turina
had met in Paris and who had died earlier in 1909. The influence of Albéniz is particularly
apparent in the opening movement where Masó’s playing is most
poetic in the reflective moments and also alive to frequent
changes of atmosphere. Following this, the scherzo bounces along
inventively and the finale has substance. This relatively youthful
work is a masterpiece that deserves to be better known.
Fantasy Sonata was written over twenty years later. In two movements,
it is structurally the reverse of the earlier sonata but without
a scherzo. The work retains some French influence – particularly
from Debussy. Magical Corner is really a sonata despite
being dubbed a “parade”. It was written during the Second World
War for Turina’s wife and children. Again variation form is
utilised, this time in the first of the four movements. The
concluding “concerto” is in two short movements, the second
of which is marked Molto Adagio. Ultimately Turina’s
music had become more concise whilst being freer in feeling:
full-blown Spanish impressionism.
the disc I was impressed by Jordi Masó’s playing – it is as
though he has moved up a gear from volume one. The piano sound
has been faithfully captured and there are excellent notes by
Justo Romero. The apposite cover picture by Achille Zo is of
hearing this disc I did not associate Spanish composers with
piano sonatas at all. Turina’s sonatas deserve the wider audience
they will gain from inclusion in Naxos’s valuable ‘Spanish Classics’ series.
As with many of the previous issues, this should not be missed.
Patrick C Waller
Jonathan Woolf has also listened to this disc:
This is the second
volume in the Turina Piano series from Naxos, itself part of
their ‘Spanish Classics’ imprint. The programme charts a progression
from the early Op.3 Sonata romántica to the op.97 Rincón
mágico. Given his predilection for Debussian impressionism,
for dance form and the Spanish pianistic near-obsession with
variation form - from Luis de Milan onwards - there’s seldom
a dull moment, though conversely there are no masterpieces either.
What remains is
a delightful swathe of colour and rhythmic inventiveness. The
Sonata romántica pursues variations on the theme of El
Vito, alternating between lyricism and reflection before a brief
and witty scherzo intervenes. The finale is bathed in veiled
Parisian mist – no wonder Turina premiered this himself in that
city in 1909.
The Sonata Fantasía
is a two-movement work that feeds off the expressively internal
and the more generically Lisztian. It begins delicately enough
but increasingly deploys Liszt’s rhetoric and Chopin-like decorative
right-hand runs. Once again Turina mines the potential of the
variation form, as his second movement is a Chorale with variations.
It’s imbued with impressionistic shading, deep bass etchings
and moments that fuse rhythmic drama with Albéniz-like reflection.
If this suggests
something not quite fully formed about Turina’s piano music
that would be too harsh. The Rincón mágico for instance
is a late, rather reflective work that pays obeisance to some
significant figures in Turina’s life and also incidentally situates
himself into the piece. The score is detailed to a remarkable
degree, leading one to think that Turina was attempting to capture
something lyrically concrete about, say, the guitarist-critic
Regino Sainz de la Maza or his friend Jose Cubiles, who gave
a number of Turina piano premieres. Once again he utilises variation
form, something that remained a constant throughout his writing
for the instrument. It imbued the work with a mixture of occasionally
repetitious verve but also deft moments of powerful characterisation
– note the drama that surrounds Pepe, the bold and vigorously
pounding pianist whom Turina calls Pepe, el pianista gaditano
... and whom Turina knew as his old friend Cubiles – who must
have been a really vigorous player from the sound of it. And
yet Turina never betrayed his Debussian lineage, and pays stylistic
homage in the Scherzo, before a rather loosely lyric Lied –
though one full of colour – that flirts with the tune Twinkle
twinkle little star. The sonata finale is compact and dramatic.
This is a loosely structured “Parade”, to give it Turina’s title,
a series of powerful impressions.
Finally there is
the Concierto, the Concerto without Orchestra, a ten-minute
work of energy and drama though not, in truth, great character.
There are some delightful touches, including what Justo Romero
rightly describes in his notes as a Debussy glissando though
the feel generally is somewhat overblown.
Maso proves an adept
interpreter. I’ve encountered him before in this series and
he is sure-footed and not inclined to exaggeration. Naxos’s
sound is good if not ideal – there’s a slight feeling of distance.
see also Review
by Kevin Sutton