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ClassicsOnline Home » TURINA, J.: Piano Music, Vol. 7 (Maso) - Album de viaje / Viaje maritimo / Evocaciones / Mallorca / Tarjetas postales
This much admired series continues with an evocative travel album that shows Turina at the height of his descriptive powers. Álbum de viaje comprises delicious watercolours whilst Viaje marítimo embodies the influence of Debussy, fruitfully harnessed to Turina’s vivid sense of colour and texture. He evokes the passion of Catalonia in Evocaciones, whereas in Mallorca he pays homage to the island’s sense of myth and contemporary excitement. Music from the Basque Country opens the brilliant Tarjetas postales. “Masó’s mastery of this repertoire is never in doubt: his melodies sing and his rhythms snap.” (Fanfare, on 8.570370).
By Steven Kruger
Joaquín Turina (1882–1949)
Álbum de viaje, Op. 15 • Viaje marítimo, Op. 49 • Evocaciones, Op. 46 • Mallorca, Op. 44 • Tarjetas postales, Op. 58
Journeys and travelling have provided a source of literary and artistic inspiration since time immemorial, perhaps most frequently of all in the world of music. Schubert’s Winterreise, Beethoven’s or Mendelssohn’s Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Tomás Marco’s El viaje circular, Ibert’s Escales, Albéniz’s Recuerdos de viaje, Rautavaara’s Symphony No. 8, ‘The Journey’, Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims are just some of the countless works using a journey as their central motif.
In his piano music Joaquín Turina conjures up images and memories of voyages both real and imagined, investing them with his wonderful sense for costumbrismo, or the depiction of local life and customs. He was himself a seasoned traveller, having visited Morocco, the United States and Cuba, as well as much of Europe, soaking in the sights and sounds he encountered along the way. His own journeys in sound are reflections of fleeting visions, seen through the filter of an unmistakable musical sentiment whose delicate expressiveness is dotted with local colour, as he evokes both the atmosphere and the melodies and rhythms of the place in question.
The Álbum de viaje, Op. 15 (Holiday Album) dates from 1915 and was inspired by Turina’s tour of Morocco, Gibraltar and the southern reaches of the Spanish province of Cádiz between 9 August and 8 September of that year. He had gone on the trip at the invitation of the writer María Lejárraga, wife of fellow writer Gregorio Martínez Sierra. They stopped at Algeciras, Gibraltar and Tangier, and the five pieces that make up this suite are miniature fantasies—watercolour sketches relating to their various ports of call.
The subject of the first sketch, the serene Retrato (Portrait), is María Lejárraga herself; she mentions in her memoirs that Turina’s original title was La compañera de viaje (Travelling Companion), but he later changed it at the scandalised reaction of their friend Manuel de Falla, a man of high moral principles, who had been shocked at their travelling together without their respective spouses.
El casino de Algeciras is a gentle piece with a very Mediterranean feel, whose score expressly demands it be played with “sentimiento popular”. In the central section, the atmosphere is lightened by an unusual, lively waltz marked “distant”. In Gibraltar, Turina depicts the rocky British colony off Cádiz’s southern coast with humour and a touch of irony, playing with the tune of God Save the Queen, and mixing it with more typically Andalusian touches. Paseo nocturno (Night-time Stroll) is a smooth episode which takes the form of a nocturne and acts as an interlude, preparing the way for the exotic final number, the dazzling Fiesta mora en Tánger (Moorish Fiesta in Tangier), which Turina later arranged for lute quartet. Álbum de viaje was first performed on 9 May 1916 at Madrid’s Hotel Ritz. Its dedicatee was, naturally enough, María Lejárraga.
Viaje marítimo (Sea Voyage) was written in 1930, and published that same year in Mainz by Schott. The first of its three pieces, Luz en el mar (Light on the Sea), betrays the influence of Debussyan impressionism, while in the second, En fiesta, the composer shows his taste for the picturesque, creating music full of rhythm and lively, popular character. The very soft, dark and somewhat disquieting opening of the final piece in the triptych, Llegada al puerto (Arrival in Port), turns out to be no more than a prelude to the extrovert explosion of colour that crowns both this and the suite as a whole.
As a good and well-travelled Andalusian, Turina always regarded far-off Catalonia with affection and admiration. Evocaciones is a delightful tribute to the homeland of musicians such as Soler, Albéniz, Casals, Montsalvatge, Victoria de los Ángeles, Alicia de Larrocha, and the performer on this recording, Jordi Masó. Turina’s illustrious dedicatee, music critic and journalist Rafael Moragas, was also Catalan by birth, and it was in Barcelona, in the modernist Palau de la Música Catalana, that Turina gave the première of these three evocations of Catalonia on 29 October 1928.
A grey-hued, almost magical world pervades Paisaje (Landscape), the first of the three, whose most remarkable feature is an expressive and repetitive melody with clear Catalan accents. The gentle serenity of Mar (Sea), the second of the evocations, clearly harks back to the warm Mediterranean waters washing against Catalan shores. This calm atmosphere is shattered, however, in the tumultuous central section, just as the Mediterranean idyll can be buffeted by unexpected and violent storms. Turina ends the work in the only way possible for a work inspired by Catalonia: with its national dance, the sardana.
The Mallorca suite was composed between 21 June and 10 September 1927. Another triptych, it brings together different perspectives of a trip to the Balearic island. Turina gave its première at a recital in Madrid on 27 May 1928. A visit to see the ancient stalactites of the famous Cuevas del Drach (Dragon’s Caves) inspired Turina to create a world of fantasy, imagination, myths and mirages whose reflections float in the lake at the heart of the caves. The spirit of Chopin in Valldemossa hovers lightly, meanwhile, above Noche en la bahía de Palma (Night in Palma Bay), an Andantino in a gentle barcarolle-like 6/8 time. By way of contrast Turina opts to end the work with a dizzying anecdotal fragment entitled Por la carretera en auto (Driving along the road), in which he describes a journey of barely twenty miles from the port of Sóller to the capital of Mallorca, Palma—an eventful trip full of onomatopeia and quoting from a number of well-known French and Spanish songs and folk tunes.
In the days before e-mail, postcards were a handy means of communication, letting friends and family know about your travels. The five short pieces that make up Turina’s Tarjetas postales were written between 13 March and 8 September 1930. They cover trips the composer made to the Basque Country, the Ramblas of Barcelona, Madrid, Granada and an unspecified religious festival, although the end of the latter piece features a zortziko rhythm that suggests somewhere in the Basque region. As well as using the unmistakable jagged rhythm of the traditional Basque dance (a defining feature of the opening piece as well), Turina illustrates these musical postcards by borrowing from the sardana, zambra and even a schottische. The collection was first performed on 21 April 1932 in Madrid, by the “young and lovely” Argentinian pianist Elisa Bullé Urtasun, one of Turina’s pupils.
© Justo Romero
English translation by Susannah Howe
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