Notes and Editorial Reviews
A whispered breeze directly from the Virgin Mary’s lips.
Albeniz, Granados, de Falla and Joaquín Turina belonged among the most important and influential of Spanish composers during the first half of the 20
th century. Turina, he youngest of the four, produced works in most genres: orchestral, chamber, piano, guitar, a couple of operas and quite a number of songs. Like de Falla he went to Paris in the early 20
th century and was influenced by Debussy and Ravel. On returning to Spain he searched for his inspiration amid traditional Andalusian music.
The songs on this disc span a period of more than ten years, from
Poema en forma de canciones and
Tres arias, both appearing in 1923, to
Homenaje a Lope de Vega, arguably his best known work, which was composed in 1935.
He changes little during this period – and why should he? He was past forty in 1923 and had found his expressive means, so all of these songs were written by a mature composer at the height of his powers. Generally speaking he strikes a perfect balance between the vocal part and the piano line, which rather than being mere accompaniment is often independent. He excels in preludes and interludes that are real challenges for a great pianist. Listen to the colourful and expressive piano part in
Dos canciones, Op. 38 (tr. 9-10). This is inspired and inspirational music and Débora Halász makes the most of it.
The singer, Carolina Ullrich, is also an inspired choice for this recital. Born in Chile she is now a permanent member of the Semper Opera in Dresden, where she this season sings roles like Gretel and Zerlina. She has a bright lyrical voice, slightly edgy at times but also with warm tone. She is a lively and expressive singer. I can imagine her being a superb Zerlina.
Looking more specifically at the songs themselves, the opening
Homenaje a Lope de Vega were certainly inspired by the poems of one of the truly great Spanish literary figures. The little trilogy must be counted among his best works. The much earlier
Poema en forma de canciones is just as satisfying and the last of the five songs,
Las locas por amor, struck me as especially successful. That’s one of the songs I have marked with red in my notes as an aide-memoire for returning to it – why not in order to introduce someone to the world of Turina.
The last of the
Tres poemas, Op. 81,
Besa el aura is another potential hit. I can’t withstand the temptation to quote the sensual poem:
The gentle breeze, softly murmuring, kisses
the placid waves, sending playful ripples across them;
the sun kisses the cloud in the west
and tinges it with purple and gold;
The flame slides around the burning log
to kiss another flame,
and even the willow, bending beneath its own weight,
to the river that kisses it, gives a kiss in return.
No wonder Turina penned one of his loveliest melodies
to these words!
Tres sonetos, Op. 54 are also inspired. Who can sit still while listening to the dancing
¡Vade retro!? Wow! But the whole group is really good. The
Tres arias, Op. 26 are, naturally enough, on a somewhat grander scale and once again Turina creates melodies that stick.
Vocalizaciones consists of some delicious miniatures, displaying differents aspects of the abilities of the human voice when there is no need to articulate words. The last of them is a coloratura show-piece. Technical accomplishment as well as wide vocal range are also requirements for the concluding
Triptico but the most enduring song is the soft, transparent
Ave Maria (tr. 20). It is like a feather – from God? – on which the singer breathes gently. It responds by creating a kaleidoscope of pastel visions. A whispered breeze directly from the Virgin Mary’s lips reaches the listener. Gems need not sparkle but a gem it is, this unpretentious
Ave Maria. I envy all of you who have not yet experienced its enchantment. Those of you who are already under the Turina spell won’t need any further sales promotion tricks from me to invest in this super budget issue.
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International