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Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)
Homenaje a Navarra, op.102 [6:09]
Las musas de Andalucia, op.93: No.2 Euterpe: en plena fiesta [3:30]
El Poema de una Sanluquena, op.28 [19:34]
Sonata Española (1908) [22:09]
Variaciones clasicas, op.72 (1932) [9:29]
Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, op.51 [11:50]
Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, op.82 'Sonata espagnola' [14:47]
Macarena Martínez (violin), Juan Escalera (piano)
rec. 2016/17, Bartok Studio, Bernareggio, Italy
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95626 [46:22+41:24]

The violin sonatas of Turina are comparatively well known but this is the first time that his complete violin works have appeared together on CD. Turina was born in Seville and then continued his studies in Madrid. He settled in Paris, where he took composition lessons from Vincent d’Indy. He came into contact with Debussy and Ravel and his music is clearly influenced in places by the French impressionists. Predominantly, however, his music is inspired by his native country and its folk music and it has a bright, sunny disposition. Just like that of de Falla, Albeniz and Granados this is music that could only have been written by a Spanish composer

The First Sonata dates from 1929 and is clearly impressionistic from the outset of the first movement, while the second subject is a gentle, singing melody. The central Aria has a bittersweet quality and the closing Rondeau, somewhat aggressive in nature, uses effects that owe something to the Flamenco guitar. The Second Sonata from 1934 is a far more sophisticated work than its predecessor. Impressionism isn’t far away but that particular sound world has been absorbed into the more obvious Spanish idiom that Turina was continuing to develop. The Theme and Variations demonstrate the composer’s expert craftsmanship. The Vivo is a scampering playful piece, which followed by a spirited Allegro moderato.

El Poema de una Sanluquena is written in four movements. This substantial work was inspired by the composer hearing the following remark: “Sanlúcar girls don’t marry and Sanlúcar boys marry outsiders”. Sanlúcar is a coastal city just north of Cadiz. The movements are ‘In front of the mirror’, ‘The Song of the Moon’, ‘Hallucinations’ and ‘The Rosary in the Church’. The suite is full of folk-song references and yet more impressionism can be heard in the style of Debussy. An air of melancholy and yearning permeates much of the music.

It is rather curious that the Sonata Espanola from 1908 actually doesn’t sound especially Spanish. This is the work of a young man still under the influence of d’Indy. It’s rather like a French sonata with a hint of Spain trying to break through somewhere in the background. The last movement, marked Tres vif is especially memorable and beautifully written for the violin. This is very much an early work but already it is showing signs of things to come.

The Variaciones Clásicas has for its staring point a very romantic melancholic theme that the composer very expertly transforms over the course of 9 minutes. The variations include a Cuban folksong a seguidilla and an exciting zapateado to finish. The compilation comes to a close with a lively salon piece Euterpe and Homenage a Navarra which is based on melodies composed by Sarasate.

Although it isn’t recommended that the listener should play through the discs in one sitting there is much to enjoy in this undemanding music. There’s charm, elegance and grace. The melodies to my ears aren’t as distinctive as Sarasate’s memorable tunes but the writing for violin and piano is superb. We don’t have to suffer any virtuoso histrionics or flashy special effects either. The playing is committed and musically satisfying. The recording is good but maybe the close microphone is slightly unfair to Macarena Martinez and her lovely sounding Stradivarius. A little more distance would have given her playing a warmer sound. Ms Martinez and Juan Escalera are a formidable team and the music is clearly in their bones. At bargain price this is well worth investigating.

John Whitmore

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