These three discs represent volumes seven to nine
in a first-class Jordi Masó series for Naxos. This has been accruing
at the rate of one a year since the end of 2004.
Joaquín Turina is arguably Number Four in the top rank of early
20th-century Spanish composers, after Albéniz, Falla and Granados
- not necessarily in that order. Like Albéniz, Turina is 'famous'
for one or two guitar pieces that were completely atypical of his output,
which is primarily piano-based, with secondary emphasis on chamber music
and stage works.
Of the big four, he was the most consciously European and this comes
through in his piano music, in which there are elements of impressionism,
folk and jazz, of the Parisian, Viennese and Londonian, shafts and shimmers
of Debussy, Ravel and Saint-Saëns. Nevertheless, the southern Spanish
flavour of Turina's music is obvious. Most of the works across the three
discs considered here are of the 'album leaf' or 'reminiscence' variety,
recalling or describing this or that part of Turina's native Andalusia
in three to five short episodes or 'moments'. Warm and nostalgic, urbane
and romantic, the music focuses on the brighter side of life rather
than the darker underbelly sometimes tackled by his friend Falla.
In fact it is fair to say that for many, any one of the three discs
will serve the same purpose. Both Turina and Masó are consistently
excellent throughout, and a random dip into one gives much the same
experience as a dip into either of the others. Fans of either or both
will be the chief movers as regards multiple purchases, though even
then there is something to be said for waiting and hoping for a cut-price
boxed set sometime after completion of the cycle.
Much of Turina's best writing is to be found in his chamber music, such
as his Piano Quintet, String Quartet and three Piano Trios, all of which
are fairly well served by recordings - Naxos themselves have done the
lattermost (8.555870) as well as the two Violin Sonatas (8.570402),
this disc also enhanced by Jordi Masó.
However, there are some terrific works for solo piano too. From volume
9, for example, the late Por las Calles de Sevilla
, hugely evocative
and twilit, or the virtuosic Leyenda de la Giralda
; the fragrantly
expressive Jardins d’Andalousie
, complete with birdsong,
from volume 8; the folk-infused exotica of the Álbum de Viaje
from volume 7. It is not clear, incidentally, why Naxos have given some
titles in French - presumably because they were published in Paris first.
The 'official' Turina website
gives only Spanish titles, as does Grove Music Online.
The dread word 'excerpts' rears its ugly head on volume 8, and at first
sight this appears a heinous omission on the part of Naxos. In fact,
Turina's Las Musas de Andalucía
is a hybrid nine-movement
work written for piano quintet and voice - but not necessarily at the
same time. Movements one, seven and eight are for piano solo only and
have thus been included by Masó, in the interests of completeness
if not artistic necessity.
Sound quality is consistently decent across all three discs, with the
same venue having been used in consecutive years. In some instances
a faint background hiss is audible, especially at volume, and there
is also just a hint of brittleness in the highest register. The well-translated
booklet notes are by Justo Romero in each case, detailed and lucid.
Contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk
See also review of Volume 8 by Paul