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Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
The Piano Music - volume 10
Tocata y fuga, op. 50 (1929) [8:47]
Partita, op. 57 (1930) [12:48]
Pieza romántica, op. 64 (1931) [6:41]
El Castillo de Almodóvar, op.65 (1931)[13:08]
Rincones de Sanlúcar, op. 78 (1933) [11:55]
Preludios, op. 80 (1933) [10:26]
Jordi Masó (piano)
rec. 2013, The Auditorium, Jafre, Spain
NAXOS 8.573183 [64:07]

The Naxos series of the piano music of Joaquín Turina has rightly been much admired. I haven’t heard every one of the preceding nine volumes in full, but I feel sure of two things: that those who have been following this series will have no hesitation in wanting to acquire this latest volume and that those who may want only a single volume would be making a good decision if they invested in this present disc. Jordi Masó has proved himself to be the perfect pianist for this project. His sure technique and his unflamboyant pianistic imagination are everywhere evident, and his perceptive, and audibly affectionate, affinity with the work of the composer is audible in pretty well every bar.

The special attraction of this current disc lies, naturally enough, in the quality of both music and performance; more specifically the music here represents all three of the main threads which were woven together in Turina’s work. These are: his interest in traditional Spanish forms and subjects, his response to the French ‘impressionist’ composers - he counted both Debussy and Ravel among his friends during the years (1905-14) in which he studied in Paris – and his respect for ‘classical’ musical forms. Turina studied piano with Moritz Moszkowski and composition with Vincent d’Indy. All of the music recorded here is fully mature, dating from the few years either side of Turina’s fiftieth birthday, in 1932.

The most obviously ‘Spanish’ music is to be found in the picturesque El Castillo de Almodóvar and Rincones de Sanlúcar. The castle of Almodóvar is some 14 or 15 miles west of the great city of Cordoba in a spectacular hill top position overlooking the river Guadalquvir - long an important trade route. It has Roman origins, though the core of the surviving building is Moorish, built by Berber forces in the eighth century. It has been much restored and renovated, on the whole very sensitively, so that it retains a powerfully evocative atmosphere. That atmosphere is captured beautifully in the three pieces which make up Turina’s musical tribute. The first ‘Silueta nocturna’ is a nocturne flavoured with warlike undertones, while the last (‘A plena luz’) is full of Andalusian sunshine. In between comes ‘Evocacíon medieval’, a fantasy full of echoes of Moorish ouds and ‘medieval’ military pomp and parade. All three are delightful and Masó’s playing is every bit as sensitive as some passages need to be and as fully forceful as some others require.

Some very different Spanish scenes are depicted in the four pianistic poems which make up the Rincones de Sanlúcar (‘Corners of Sanlúcar’) an evocation of the city in the province of Cádiz, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a place Turina loved. It is also ‘represented’ in some of his other compositions, notably the piece for violin and piano entitled El poema de una sanluqueña. Here, the four pieces evoke a personality (‘La señorita Maria’) and three places in the city: ‘La Fuente de las piletas’:‘The spring of Las Piletas’, ‘El portico de Santo Domingo’: ‘The entrance porch of San Domingo’ and ‘Subida al Barrio Alto’: ‘The climb to the Barrio Alto’ (the Barrio Alto being the highest part of the city, furthest from the sea). All four pieces are full of colourful writing. Particularly pleasing is ‘El portico de Santo Domingo’; The Spanish term ‘portico’ is not without ambiguity, but I suspect that here it refers to the fine entrance arch in the garden of the church. The body of the church, so far as I recall from a visit some years ago, belongs to the sixteenth century and is in a predominantly Renaissance style. The arched gate was added at the beginning of the following century. It has overtones of the classical Triumphal arch, and Turina’s music captures both its symmetrical grandeur and a kind of reverential sense of triumph and slow approach to the church itself. This and other pieces make one wonder whether Turina’s well-developed skill in the art of musical picture-making didn’t have a genetic component to it – his father (of Italian descent) was, after all, a successful genre painter.

There is, as hinted earlier, much more than just musical pictorialism to Turina’s art and he draws on, and contributes to, far more than just Spanish traditions. Rather more than most of his Spanish contemporaries, Turina wrote many works in the traditional ‘European’ classical forms. So, for example, this present disc includes a toccata, a fugue, a partita and five preludes. A Spanish accent, as it were, is detectable in some of these, but that may owe almost as much to the playing of the excellent Masó as to the writing of Turina. Much of what is most attractive and distinctive in Turina’s piano writings comes from the interplay of traditions, such as the Debussy-like delicacy of the ‘Zarabanda’, the second movement of the ‘Partita’ or the unmistakable influence of Ravel in the fascinating ‘Pieza romantíca’, works in which broader European traditions meet Spanish idioms and rhythms in a happy marriage.

At a rough estimate something like three to five further CDs will be needed to complete this project. It is already one of which Jordi Masó and Naxoscan be proud.

Glyn Pursglove



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