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David Hurwitz, May 2012

The music here has all of the passion, elegance, and melodic craftsmanship that characterizes Turina’s best work. As with previous releases in this ongoing series, the performances are excellent. Jordi Masó’s confident keyboard playing is a known quantity from his discs of the composer’s solo piano works, and here he’s joined by Eva León, an excellent violinist who sounds every bit as comfortable in the idiom. A wonderful release. © 2012 Read complete review

Paulino Toribio
Ritmo, September 2009

Eva León and Jordi Masó perform on an excellent CD of Turina.

Joaquin Turina was one of the few Spanish composers of his time who devoted part of his musical compositions to the violin.  It’s Spanish music that uniquely draws to mind the soft lights of the Mediterranean and Andalusian soul through the harmony of the French school. Turina spent many summers vacationing with his family in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cádiz, on the shore of the Guadalquivir river and there he breathed the scents and sensations that were then reflected in his music. As the composer himself said, he did not try to write descriptive music but rather music from feelings and suggestions. We must say that it is not a repertoire that it is often presented in concert halls and recitals, but nevertheless has a weight, a freshness and an artistic value of first rate music. The simplicity of the compositions’ form, very much in the Classical tradition, together with the sprouting of Andalusian and gypsy themes, creates that special symbiosis.

A warm sound for a luminous music, Eva León displays a round violin timbre, is restrained with her vibrato, and is gentle and cadenced as it should be performed in the chamber music of Turina. She is well-accompanied at the piano by Jordi Masó.

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, September 2009

Turina’s evocative, shimmering, folk-drenched Andalucían confections make for orderly programming and splendid listening. They also invite warmly textured playing that embodies all the cardinal virtues of an early impressionist-classicist heritage, lightly worn.

The First Sonata was dedicated to the fine violinist Jeanne Gauthier. It sounds, in places, oddly like the 1917 John Ireland Second Sonata though its vaguely Delian references are probably diluted impressionism and incidental. The second subject is sweetly lyrical but has a touch of the salon style about it as well. A fine aria lies at the heart of the central movement—in which Eva León’s soft variegated tone is a decided asset—as do some rather rhetorical late nineteenth century violinistics—via Sarasate maybe. The finale picks up on Sevillian vigour—with puckish guitar “thwack” imitations and dancing rhythmic animation.

A decade later he wrote his final numbered sonata, the one by which he is best known—if he’s known at all for them. The Second Sonata cleaves in part to the Iberian impressionist model so proudly absorbed earlier in his compositional life. As before various dance patterns course through the veins of this energising opus—though one becomes aware that these are less fanciful than of old, and more sophisticated in their melodic and rhythmic profile and patterns. For example though Turina employs the Fandango with great skill he fuses it with alternating relaxed material that ensures a cohesion sometimes lacking in the earlier works. Throughout we also find that Iberia is spiced with Franck’s oratorical recitative.

The third major work here is El poema de una sanluqueña (Fantasia para violin y piano) which was written before the First Sonata Op. 51. This captures perfectly the sense of allure and reserve, the lyricism and introversion, that permeates Turina’s Andalucian imagination, here ones wedded powerfully to female inspirations. The four movements are succinct but spicy, coilingly descriptive, sultry, and warm. There’s a delicious—in effect—Scherzo, and subtle colouration and withdrawn wistfulness for the last of the four, The Rosary In The Church.  

The Variaciones clásicas were written just before the Second Sonata. They employ a raft of dance rhythms, the seguidillas prominently, and end in a zapateado of foot-tapping zest; moods range from melancholy to driving. Then there’s the modestly sized Euterpe written much later in 1942 and chockfull of bracing zest once more. 

We’re fortunate in having a number of recommendable versions of Turina’s works for violin…But with Naxos we have the admirable Jordi Masó, so deeply immersed in this repertoire, who lends invaluable and expressively bright support. You won’t be disappointed by this Naxos newcomer; the music is served up with panache and passion.

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, August 2009

We rarely associate the Sevillian composer Joaquin Turina (1882–1949) with the violin repertory, but Eva Leon here presents (rec. 20, 22 October 2007) virtually all of this nationalist’s work for the violin, except the Op. 102, the Homenaje a Navarra. The pieces date 1923–1942, and they combine a natural Iberian ambiance with the classicism Turina imbibed at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. Euterpe (the Muse of Music) derives from a suite of nine works, Las musas se Andalucía (1942), and it gives us a series of lively sevillanas in festive, colorful array. The occasional passing melody more than once harkens back to the set of Spanish Dances by Sarasate.

After the Sonata No. 2 (1934), the big work is The Poem of a Sanlucar Girl of 1923, whose imaginative four sections might be a distant cousin of Falla’s El Amor Brujo. Turina spoke of wanting to defend (in music) “those beautiful Andalusian girls, living in a sad and never-ending dream,” referring to the myth that Sanlucar girls of the Cadiz region never marry, and Sanlucar boys marry outsiders. A finely-wrought tenderness pervades the rippling and hazy motions of piano and violin, descriptive of the women living at the mouth of the Guadalquivir valley. This delicate, lyrical music could provide a background for Marquez’ 100 Years of Solitude. Often, in the severe, dry and plastic line of the violin, we can hear the influence of the G Minor Debussy Sonata. Le cancion del lunar, the second of the set, casts a wry humorous glow on the motif of self-absorption. The third section, Alucinaciones, overtly confronts the possibility of (occasionally violent/passionate) visions as the source of one’s bittersweet reality. The last section, El Rosario en la iglesia conveys religious sentiments but in rather sensual terms. The piano part indulges in some high register chords and smooth arpeggios straight out of Debussy preludes. The haunting character of the writing begs the question of its long neglect.

Variationes clasicas (1932) utilizes a sorrowful plaint as its inspiration for the five variants that follow in national and brilliant Spanish style.  A Cuban Guairá sways languidly; then seguidillas from afar, Falla’s “Distant Dance” from Nights in the Gardens of Spain.  The third variation suggests a spirited tango, marked by poignant non-legato and drooping chords from the piano. The muted violin sings in the fourth variant, and we can well appreciate the charm of Leon’s tone. The last dance definitely “belongs” to Sarasate, a brisk zapateado that soon passes beyond the salon into the wilds and temptations of the Andalusian countryside.

The Sonata No. 1 in D Major (1929) mingles classical forms with Andalusian colors, what Turina called “a work of very simple lines, in three movements.” The chastity of line might suggest Saint-Saens or D’Indy, as tempered by Iberian folk motifs. The Aria is marked Lento and conveys a passionate modal sense of lyrical drama. The violin part enjoys a brief cadenza in double stops and high flute tone. Last, a Rondeau: Allegretto in farrucca rhythm that appears both folkish and antique at once, as though an illumined Sarasate were musing on old modes of expression. The Second Sonata (1934) announces itself immediately as a “Spanish Sonata” that likes to employ variation as its method of procedure, perhaps an homage to La Folia. The variations become tango-like and take on a distinctive character, that of the Basque zortziko in 5/8 time. We might detect something of Ravel in the brief, rhythmic cells that move to the coda. The second movement: Vivo-Andante-Vivo exploits Andalusian rhythms and colorful vitality, a sometimes dissonant gypsy dance in the manner of a zambra. The Adagio—Allegro moderato that ends the piece loosely follows sonata-form, cyclically invoking the theme from movement one and utilizing copla motifs, dance rhythms rife with elements of a fandanguillo—martial and sensuous at once.

John Terauds
Toronto Star, June 2009

Two sparkling young Spanish musicians do a nice job of chanelling the melodies and textures conjured for violin and piano by composer Joaquín Turina (1882–1949). Two sonatas are part of this piece-work disc that richly evokes the rhythms and dances of the Iberian peninsula. Violinist Eva León has a mesmerizingly silken touch.

James Manheim, June 2009

The Naxos label’s “Spanish Classics” series has gravitated heavily toward the comparatively neglected Joaquín Turina, whose musical language, though conservative compared with the likes of Falla, drew on the same mixture of Spanish folk traditions and French impressionism that animated the work of his more famous colleagues. In a way, his subtle fusions are all the more attractive for their conservative idiom—Turina has to work harder to work it all in. That said, the violin-and-piano combination heard here doesn’t show him at its best; the melodies of the two violin sonatas are for the most part sentimental and safe. Perhaps the most interesting work is the four-movement El poema de una sanluqueña (Fantasía para violin y piano), Op. 28, of 1923, whose programmatic qualities are of the kind that best exploits the tension in Turina’s work. The title means “The Poem of a Sanlúcar Girl”—a poem about her rather then by her. Sanlúcar, a town in Spain’s southern Cádiz province, was a favored vacation spot for the composer. The painting on the cover, however, depicts Seville, not Sanlúcar. Turina himself maintained that the work was not specifically descriptive but treated the state of mind evoked by a local saying: “Sanlúcar girls don’t get married, and Sanlúcar boys marry outsiders.” The music, however, clearly follows the imagined protagonist from in front of her mirror, through an episode of fantasy and into a church. It’s a rare work that could fit any number of recital programs. Canary Islands-born violinist Eva León and pianist Jordi Masó give performances that are both accurate and charismatic, and the auditorium sound is clear and unfussy. Of most interest to Turina fans, but with one nice find for any lover of Spanish music.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2009

Violinists have been missing a feast of gorgeous music by ignorance of Turina’s music, though purists might take exception to the use of the title ‘sonata’. Composed, with one exception, in the 1920s and 30s, this one disc contains almost all of the music Turina composed for the instrument. Lightweight and almost salon music, the sonatas are full of the most catchy and scrumptious melodies that are sure to bring a smile to your face. Both are fashioned in a conventional three movement format, but are really short cameos that require the silky smooth, creamy tone produced by the young violinist, Eva León. Turina does give much prominence to the piano, with the violin often weaving a web around the main thematic material, Ravel springing to mind as a rough guide to the feel of the music. Sample the delights of the finale to the first sonata (track 3) to taste the disc as a whole. It is completed by four musical pictures, including a spooky Alucinaciones (Hallucinations) as the third section of El poema de una sanluqueña; the harmonically attractive Euterpe from 1942, and the short Variaciones clasicas of 1928. As with every disc I have heard from the pianist, Jordi Masó, the playing is so idiomatically Spanish, his clarity, shaping and affection for the music always impeccable. He brings a perfect balance between instruments, León happily becoming the accompanist in quite extended passages. There are just a few moments when another take to clean up violin intonation in some very tricky passages would have made the disc perfect. As it stands I much commend it to all who enjoy beautiful music, and violinists simply must not miss it.

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