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8.557684 - TURINA, J.: Piano Music, Vol. 3 (Maso)- Seville / Spanish Women / Women of Seville
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Joaquín Turina (1882–1949): Piano Music, Vol. 3
Mujeres de Sevilla • Mujeres españolas I and II • Sevilla

This third volume of Turina's piano music recorded for Naxos by the Catalan pianist Jordí Masó brings together works from two of the composer's principal sources of inspiration: women and his native city of Seville. There are works about and named after women, all of them filled with that sense of the picturesque always so beautifully captured by Turina. The name of the Andalusian capital itself has feminine connotations, and in a way the composer's feelings about the city (it has often been said that without Seville Turina would be unfathomable) are echoed in his intimate portrayals of mocitas, cigarreras, macarenas and trianeras, the happy and sentimental women who inhabit these collections. Every brushstroke of these portraits conveys the aromatic and unmistakable language of one of the most characteristic Spanish composers of the twentieth century. Alongside the sweeping imagination of Albéniz or the penetrating perfection of Falla, Turina offers a colourful vein that delights in reflecting the traditional, undisguised face of Spain — a stereotypical Spain of tambourines and gypsies, yes, but also an authentic Spain, full of the essence of days gone by.

Franckian influences notwithstanding, the "picturesque suite" Sevilla is Turina's first Andalusian work. It was written in 1908 when the 26-year-old composer was in the thrall of all that Paris had to offer, and mixing with figures such as Debussy, Dukas, Fauré, Ravel, Albéniz and his close friend and fellow-Andalusian Manuel de Falla. His change in musical direction had much to do with the advice given him by Albéniz: that he should distance himself little by little from the philosophy of the Schola Cantorum and begin drawing his inspiration from traditional Spanish music. The opening piece of the suite, Bajo los naranjos (Beneath the Orange Trees), is based on a copla [verse] inspired by the rhythm of the soleares [flamenco song/dance]. "I must have been about fifteen when I heard the copla de soleares that features in Bajo los naranjos in Chiclana [a village in the province of Cádiz]." By contrast, El Jueves Santo a medianoche (Maundy Thursday at Midnight) is introspective and unhurried, bringing a certain splendour to the sober music of the saeta [a song associated with Holy Week, especially in Seville]. According to Turina, the piece is a "mysterious portrait" of Seville's Holy Week. Crowning the work, and providing further contrast, is Feria [Seville's annual week-long festival]. In the composer's words, "I have never been a festival-goer, and though this final number begins full of bustle and noise, the colours gradually begin to fade and the scene takes on a sad hue, like sentimental memories of soleares — only banished by one last effort to bring the music to an end in a burst of joy". Sevilla was first heard on 16 October 1908, performed by Turina himself at the Sociedad Artístico-Musical in, of course, Seville.

Eight years separate Sevilla from the first series of Mujeres españolas (Spanish Women), which Turina composed in Madrid in 1917, "between 27 March and, at the latest, 18 April". It took him only three weeks, therefore, to write its three sections, the most remarkable of which is La andaluza sentimental (The Sentimental Girl from Andalusia), a beautiful piece, one of the most sensitive and finely honed Turina ever wrote. It portrays not the typical dark, passionate woman of Andalusia, "but a fair-haired, pale-skinned girl, full of joy, but the joy of a caged bird". The composer said that the work "could be seen as a sonata in three parts". "The first," he explained, "is the opening movement (the first theme is a chotis; the second a pasodoble); the second movement is like a five-part Lied; the second part has the lilt of the seguidilla, the fourth, that of the guajira; and finally comes the third movement, like a rondo, whose refrain is the Manchegan seguidilla." Perhaps this explains why the last part, published as La morena coqueta (The Dark Coquette), was given its première under the title of La manchega coqueta (The Coquette from La Mancha). The first performance of Mujeres españolas was given by Ricardo Viñes in Paris on 12 June 1917, as part of a concert at the Salle des Agriculteurs.

It was only in 1932 that Turina decided to write a second set of Mujeres españolas. Although fifteen years had passed, the new series is written in the same idiom. The titles are typically descriptive, though here everything seems perhaps more obvious, less original. Predictably enough, La gitana enamorada (The Gypsy Girl in Love) features the 2/4 rhythm of the flamenco garrotín beneath an Andantino air that frames some contagiously melodic designs. A typically Spanish ambivalence between 6/8 and 3/4 marks La florista (The Flower Girl), while the following piece, La señorita que baila (The Dancing Girl) is less localised in colour, being in waltz time, with harmonies of an almost Debussyan subtlety. La murciana guapa (The Pretty Girl from Murcia) is one of Turina's rare incursions into the riches of Murcian folk-music, and the collection is brought to an end with a straightforward and joyful version of the sevillanas. The manuscript, bearing a dedication to the sculptor Jacinto Higueras, was published by Salabert in Paris in 1933.

In a way, Mujeres de Sevilla is an extension of the two sets of Mujeres de España. This new collection of five pieces appeared just three years after the second of those series, and was dedicated to Turina's daughter Concha. These tightly focused, expressive portraits once again draw on the rhythms, melodies and sounds of folk music; their images are filtered by both temporal and physical distance, but also so steeped in the imagination and sense of yearning provoked by that distance that they create tangible echoes of Seville. "Psychological penetration from the starting-point of details," in the words of Enrique Franco. A kind of musical flirtation characterized by humanism and sensuality. In the first of these five portraits of Sevillian women, La alfarera de Triana (The Potter from Triana), the rapid repetitions in the accompaniment imitate the turn of the potter's wheel (Mendelssohn used the same technique in his famous song without words Spinnerlied). The atmosphere becomes internalised and loaded with "popular feeling" in La mocita del barrio (The Young Local Girl), in which a long and very delicate recitative acts as an introduction to the guajira. La macanera con garbo (The Stylish Girl from Macarena) breaks into a rhythmical air that evokes the girl's graceful movements, while in La cigarrera traviesa (The Sassy Cigar-maker) we hear, as in Bizet's Carmen, the sensual habanera, clearly linking Havanan cigars and the characteristic rhythm of the longed-for "Pearl of the Caribbean". Turina ends this most Sevillian of collections in the only way possible — as he did the second set of Mujeres españolas and as his friend Albéniz did his monumental Iberia— with the lively and sparkling sound of the sevillanas.

Justo Romero
English Version: Susannah Howe


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