JOAQUIN TURINA: Violin Sonata No. 1, Op. 53; Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 82 “Sonata espanola”; Euterpe, Op. 93, No. 2; El poema de una sanluquena–Fantasia for Violin and Piano, Op. 28; Variationes clasicas, Op. 72 – Eva Leon, violin/Jordi Maso, piano – Naxos 8.570402, 61:55 ****:
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.