Notes and Editorial Reviews
With other composers you might confuse your
Sonatas españolas but not with Turina. Though two actually bear that name he withdrew the first very sharply indeed and after the initial performance it remained unperformed until 1981. Which left for all practical purposes just the Second to bear that name, written a quarter of a century later than that apprentice work.
Turina’s violin works are drenched in Andalusian sunshine. They are to Iberian dance rhythms what Seville is to the orange. The First Sonata is explicitly bathed in that rich landscape, emerging in the wake of Granados and Albéniz and buoyed by just a dash of Franco-Iberian impressionism. Its language is enriched by folk lyricism and in strictly rhapsodic flights of fancy. The slow movement is a songful and passionate one, verdant and rich hued, whilst the finale is skittish and energetic but with some French models – yes, the obvious ones, very much on show. It’s presumably this that caused Turina to disown his offspring. Elements of Debussyan practice perhaps loomed too large for him and he felt it insufficiently personal a work.
In 1923 he wrote his first numbered and acknowledged sonata. It too is in three movements. It’s a tougher bird and there are some moments that sound uncannily 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, 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 sonata, the one by which he is best known – if he’s known at all for them. Again this 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.
Variaciones clásicas were written just before the Second Sonata. They employ a panoply of dance rhythms, the
seguidillas prominently, and end in a
zapateado of foot-tapping zest; moods range from melancholy to driving.
Homenaje a Navarra was written four years before Turina’s death. It’s a salute to a hero of the Spanish violin firmament, Sarasate, and takes his themes and does to them pretty much as Sarasate did with his operatic paraphrases and own compositions. It’s full of vitality and affirmative enjoyment.
The performances are pleasing and engaging; a little small-scaled perhaps in tonal shading but conversely never making a meal out of Turina’s already heady rhythmic profile. Competition, unheard by me, comes from the distinguished team of Ayo and Canino on Dynamic; they perform all the violin-piano music on two discs. But the Verso team makes a fine case for this vital and energising music.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International