About this Recording
8.570402 - TURINA, J.: Violin and Piano Music - Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 / El poema de una sanluquena / Variaciones clasicas / Euterpe (Leon, Maso)
English  Spanish 

Joaquín Turina (1882–1949)
Music for Violin and Piano


Although Spain has produced such outstanding violinists as Pablo Sarasate and Jesús de Monasterio, the Spanish violin repertoire is less than abundant. Sevillian composer Joaquín Turina created his music from the keyboard, and piano works therefore make up much of his production, but he also composed a number of high-quality pieces for violin, one of the few Spanish composers of his day to do so.

This recording contains virtually his complete works for the instrument*, which he wrote over a period of two decades, beginning with the fantasia for violin and piano El poema de una sanluqueña (The Poem of a Sanlúcar Girl, 1923), and ending with Euterpe, completed in 1942. In the intervening years he also composed the Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 51 (1929), the Variaciones clásicas, Op. 72 (1932) and the Sonata No. 2, known as the Sonata española, Op. 82, which is dated 1934. All bear witness to the composer’s deeply rooted nationalism, amicably rubbing shoulders with the powerful influence of French music and, above all, with a wholly distinctive compositional style of his own. Turina’s personal musical universe can be heard in every note he wrote.

Dedicated “à Jeanne Gautier”, Turina’s Sonata No. 1 in D major for violin and piano, Op. 51 of 1929 is one of the works that most clearly reflects the training he received at the Schola Cantorum, although this by no means diminishes the very personal inspiration he brought to his work, a point made by the Spanish critic Antonio Fernández-Cid. In it romantic fantasy and a sense of classical order mingle with the vein of Andalusian inspiration that always ran deep within Turina and on which he so instinctively drew.

The composer’s own words give us perhaps the best insight into this piece, which he considered to be “written in sonata form without complications and almost without development”. In 1947 Turina noted the following in his Cuaderno de notas: “It is a work of very simple lines, in three movements: an Allegro in sonata form, almost without development; an Aria containing a dramatic, folk-based episode; and a Rondeau with a farruca rhythm”. Some years earlier, in 1930, he had written in the periodical El Debate that the “Sonata in D follows the characteristic scheme for the form, but with an added folk element in its melodic accents and rhythmic formulae. I tried to avoid anything superfluous, using no more material than necessary in its themes and developments.” The sonata had its première in Lyon in 1930.

Turina worked on his Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano (Sonata española), Op. 82, between 25 September 1933 and 17 January 1934. The manuscript bears a dedication to a friend and pupil of his, composer and conductor Pedro Sanjuán (1886–1976). The Sonata was first performed in London, at the Rubicon, by Ángel Grande (violin) and Maria Lewinskaya (piano). Soon afterwards it had its Madrid première, this time played by violinist Enrique Iniesta and Turina himself. Spain’s National Performance Syndicate awarded it a prize in 1941.

Though only separated from its predecessor by a few years, the Second Sonata is a considerably more elaborate and ambitious work, both in terms of its thematic material and the development to which it is subjected. As noted by Federico Sopeña, “the Second Sonata goes beyond the academic nature of the First and, successfully avoiding the trap of the purely anecdotal, achieves from the start a happy blend of the traditional, the descriptive and the personal.”

The first movement consists of a set of very free variations based on Spanish rhythms: the first variation is inspired by the petenera, the second acts as the expressive climax of the movement, and the third adopts the distinctive form and 5/8 tempo of the zortziko, a Basque folk-dance. The concise second-movement scherzo has a tripartite structure, Vivo—Andante—Vivo, and, as pointed out by José Luis García del Busto, “is unmistakably Andalusian in nature”, with its evocations of the gypsy rhythms of the zambra. The finale, AdagioAllegro moderato, is in free sonata form and ends in a fandanguillo. Echoes of the first movement’s slow introduction can be heard in the copla motifs and dance rhythms that follow one another in the typical sonata-form development.

Euterpe, for violin and piano, Op. 93, No. 2 is the second number in the suite entitled Las musas de Andalucía (The Muses of Andalusia), a cycle of nine short works conceived for the forces of voice, piano and string quartet, which Turina composed between April and October 1942. This second piece, which has a simple tripartite structure, was first performed at Madrid’s German Cultural Institute on 7 November 1944, by Enrique Iniesta and pianist José Tordesillas. It is dedicated to the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza. Euterpe, the Greek Muse of instrumental music, whose symbol is the flute, is represented here by lively sevillanas that conjure up the joyful festivities typical of the composer’s native city.

Joaquín Turina’s love for Sanlúcar de Barrameda (in the province of Cadiz) is easy to hear in the various pieces that he dedicated to this attractive town, which stands at the mouth of the great Guadalquivir River, and is renowned for an aroma of manzanilla, seafood and the ocean. It was in Sanlúcar, around sixty miles from Seville, that Turina and his family spent their summer holidays. The composer’s childhood memories were to inspire many a work in later years, including the fantasia for violin and piano El poema de una sanluqueña, Op. 28, whose four movements he wrote between March and October 1923 and dedicated to “the girls of Sanlúcar”. The première took place in Sanlúcar’s Teatro Reina Victoria on 20 July 1924, with violinist Manuel Romero and the composer himself at the keyboard.

In an interview published in 1923 Turina rejected the descriptive nature of this poem for violin: “It is not a descriptive work, but an essay that could be considered as a state of mind; in other words, my aim was to express a completely suggestive emotional state. This is in contrast with my earlier works, such as La procesión del Rocío for example, which are purely descriptive.” But he gave a further clue to the work a little later, when he revealed that the work had been inspired by a phrase he had once overheard from the lips of a Sanlúcar girl: “Sanlúcar girls don’t get married and Sanlúcar boys marry outsiders”. “Given that I’m an adoptive Sanlúcar boy myself,” said Turina, “I wanted to stick up for my countrywomen, those beautiful Andalusian girls, living in a sad and never-ending dream.”

The musicologist Enrique Sánchez Pedrote, himself a native of Sanlúcar, saw El poema de una sanluqueña as a key work in the twentieth-century Spanish chamber-music repertoire. “Throughout the score there is, alongside a subtle sense of humour, a very particular and finely judged tenderness, a genuine sympathy and understanding for what it was to be a woman living at the mouth of the great river, at the very end of the Guadalquivir valley…It is hard, perhaps, for later generations to understand those tranquil times in which nothing ever happened, as one day slowly and barely perceptibly merged into the next, behind shuttered and lace-curtained windows.”

The Variaciones clásicas, Op. 72, date from June 1932, and were first heard at the Ateneo in Madrid, performed by violinist Manuel Pérez Díaz. The work was dedicated to Lola Palatín de Higueras “as a fraternal offering of gratitude and affection”. Just under ten minutes long, the piece is based on a sorrowful, lament-like theme, which takes on new guises as the variations unfold. The first of these suggests the lazy, languid rocking of a Cuban guajira. In the second, the sounds of seguidillas can be heard, far off in the distance. The third is a rhythmical tango with a meticulous beat, while the fourth is a melodic evocation of tenuous sonorities, sung by the muted violin. A bright and fast-moving zapateado of dazzling virtuosity brings the variations to a close.

© Justo Romero
English version by Susannah Howe

* The only piece not included is his Homenaje a Navarra, Op. 102, written in July–August 1945 at the request of Pablo Sarasate.

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