Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Jardins d’Andalousie, Op.31 (1924) [19:41]
Le Quartier de Santa Cruz, Op.33 (1925) [17:56]
Las musas de Andalucia, Op.93 (1942): Clio, Urania, Terpsichore [10:09]
En el cortijo, Op.92 (1940) [14:26]
Jordi Masó (piano)
rec. Jafre Auditorium, Spain, 26-27 February 2011
NAXOS 8.572682 [62:27]

Turina was an amazingly prolific composer for the piano. His output for the instrument surpasses in sheer fecundity that of his Spanish contemporaries Falla and Granados, or even his predecessor Albéniz. This is the eighth CD of his piano music produced by Naxos in performances by Jordi Masó. And yet Turina’s piano music is distinctly less well known than that of the other three Spanish composers cited earlier. There doesn’t seem to be any spectacularly obvious reason for this, unless the sheer volume of the music has deterred pianists from exploring it. The works here are all inspired by the scenery and music of Turina’s native Andalucia. The earlier two works - Jardins d’Andalousie and the ‘rhythmic variations’ Le Quartier de Santa Cruz - were originally intended to form two panels of a unified portrait of Seville. None of the works on this disc appear to have been recorded before, and their total neglect is most surprising.
The Jardins d’Andalousie in their title may recall Falla’s Nights in the gardens of Spain, but Turina’s music is less ambitious - rather more a series of impressionistic portraits in the style of Granados’s Goyescas or Debussy’s Préludes. They are beautiful pieces. The set of variations rings the required changes in mood nicely but is rather less evocative despite the persistence of Andalucian rhythms which underpin each variation. It might seem that Turina found the variation form somewhat of a constraint; some of the individual sections yearn for more room to expand rhapsodically. The final section produces a broadly grandiose restatement of the melody. Masó could perhaps have allowed the music to expand a little further here to produce a feeling of conclusion.
The excerpts from Las musas d’Andalucia comprise the three numbers for solo piano from a nine-movement work describing the Greek Muses. It also included settings for voice and string quartet. They are beautiful pieces, superbly written for the instrument, with decided overtones of Ravel. Urania starts with a jaunty fugue, but this is very quickly interrupted by swinging jota rhythms and proceeds joyously. Falla in his later years became more neo-classical and desiccated as he aged. Turina seems to have stayed true to his original style, with a slight cooling as befits depictions of Greek goddesses. These pieces, like Ravel, would seem to beckon for orchestration, perhaps as part of a presentation of the whole work.
The slightly earlier En el cortijo (On the farm) was given the subtitle Impresiones andaluzas, and reflects the atmospheric writing of the earlier Jardins d’Andalousie and Quartier de Santa Cruz. The influence here is very decidedly Debussian, with passages in the opening movement and the third both reminiscent of La cathédrale engloutie. Broad chorale-like melodies are surrounded by figurations. The first movement then erupts into lighter glissandos and trills reflecting the title Night in the countryside. The second movement, In the shadow of the farmhouse, also has hints of Debussy but now it is a Spanish golliwog who dances his cakewalk. The third movement leads directly into a depiction of Horsemen galloping across the plains which owes nothing to Liszt’s Mazeppa.
Martin Jones for Nimbus produced a superb recording of a selection of Turina’s piano music, but as noted above none of the works on this disc were included in that collection. Masó therefore has the field to himself, and he does the music proud. His playing is superlatively responsive and idiomatic. The recording has sufficient bloom to lend romantic enchantment to Turina’s visions of his beloved homeland. This is unjustly neglected music which deserves attention.
Paul Corfield Godfrey 

Unjustly neglected music which deserves attention.