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Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Piano Music vol. 2
Romantic Sonata on a Spanish Theme Op.3 (1909) [20:28]
Fantasy Sonata Op.59 (1930) [12:34]
Magical CornerParade in sonata form Op.97 (1941-6) [24:00]
Concerto without Orchestra Op.88 (1935) [10:45]
Jordi Masó (piano)
rec. Jafre, Spain. July 2004. DDD
NAXOS 8.557438 [67:47]


It 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Throughout 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 Seville Cathedral.

Before 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.

Jonathan Woolf

see also Review by Kevin Sutton










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