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ClassicsOnline Home » TURINA, J.: Piano Music, Vol. 8 (Maso) - Jardines de Andalucia / El barrio de Santa Cruz / En el cortijo
Turina was one of the great musical poets of his native Andalusia, and his music is drenched in its colour, variety and dance. Jardins d’Andalousie illustrates his dazzlingly picturesque absorption of the seguidilla rhythm and an invocation of courtly scenes. Le Quartier de Santa Cruz is one of his longest piano works and depicts a dramatic narrative of love, duel, and drama in Seville, whilst En el cortijo visits the plains for a quartet of rural episodes of rich characterisation and virtuosity. Jordi Masó’s ongoing Turina cycle has received worldwide acclaim.
Joaquín Turina (1882–1949)
Jardins d’Andalousie • Le Quartier de Santa Cruz • Las musas de Andalucía • En el cortijo
Andalusia has always provided a source of inspiration for Spanish music. Foreign composers too have incorporated Andalusian touches in their work as a kind of shorthand for Spain as a whole. Joaquín Turina, born and bred in Seville, did more than try and reflect his homeland and its rich folk heritage in his work: he breathed these elements into the heart of his picturesque music, firmly rooting it in Andalusian tradition and bringing the region to life with a sense of fantasy and the fluency that marks so many of his compositions. While Falla reclaimed an “imagined folklore”, Turina was more closely bound to reality, with a way of composing that more than recreating, simply was.
The suite Jardins d’Andalousie (Gardens of Andalusia) dates from 1924 and was first performed in Málaga, as part of a recital given by Turina at the city’s Philharmonic Society on 26 November that same year. It is one of a number of pieces he wrote after leaving Andalusia that pay tribute to his beloved homeland. The slow introduction of the opening piece, La Muse de Séville (The Muse of Seville), has echoes of Debussy, but soon gives way to an “expressive and mysterious” melody with close ties to folkmusic. Au jardin des Capucins (In the Capuchin Monastery Garden) is based on a lively seguidilla rhythm, a striking figure in the lower register gradually increasing in range and brightness, as Turina paints an evocative portrait of the daybreak referred to in his subtitle to the piece: “The roses in the garden take on colour and light as the sun rises.” Aux jardins de l’Alcázar (In the Alcázar Gardens) is inspired, as the composer himself notes, by “courtly scenes of days gone by”. A brief, impressionistic introduction is succeeded by a stately gavotte. Turina breaks into this with dashes of characteristic Andalusian flavour in the shape of an overt flamenco cante and with one of his loveliest and most effective recitatives. The suite ends with Dans le parc (In the Park), a dazzlingly descriptive fragment in which the sevillanas rhythm imposes its rule over a feast of sound that includes some wonderful bird-song effects.
A period of a few short months separates Jardins d’Andalousie from the “rhythmic variations” entitled Le Quartier de Santa Cruz (The Santa Cruz District), written between 8 January and 20 February 1925. Here Turina focuses his inspiration on a single, very specific place: the picturesque Seville neighbourhood in whose vicinity he was born. There are stylistic similarities between this work and Jardins—both are imbued with the same energy and based around the rhythms of popular music. As we learn from a postcard Turina sent his wife on 9 April 1924, the two works emerged from a single initial spark of inspiration: “The idea I mentioned to you yesterday is to create two pieces under the overall heading of Impresiones de Sevilla: I. The Gardens and II. The Santa Cruz district. What do you think?” Later, as he worked on a number of different themes and ideas, he decided to split them into the two separate works recorded here.
Le Quartier de Santa Cruz is one of Turina’s longest piano works, comprising a theme and seven variations. The theme, which the composer labelled “Jardins et ruelles” (Gardens and alleyways), is based on a complex rhythmic motif which seems to reflect Santa Cruz’s labyrinthine streets. The lively, syncopated 3/4 rhythm of the first variation, Sérénade (Serenade), recalls Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, first performed in May 1911. Turina added a Spanish subtitle to his second variation, Dialogue à la fenêtre (Conversation at the Window): “Pelando la pava” (a colloquialism for a man on the street “whispering sweet nothings” to a woman behind a window grille). Here, in typically Spanish manner, he melds together duple and triple time (2/4 and 6/8), underlining with subtle musical psychology the situation of the two lovers separated by the insurmountable barrier of the grille. Variation No. 3, L’Autre (The Other Man), introduces a third character, creating a love triangle which, inevitably, leads into the next variation, Le Duel (The Duel). After Nos 5 and 6, a light and airy episode, L’Aube (Dawn), brings the work to an end, its tranquillity barely troubled by the final, sonorous chords. Le Quartier de Santa Cruz had its première, of course, in Seville, in the now demolished Teatro San Fernando on 6 March 1925, with the composer himself at the keyboard.
Las musas de Andalucía is a much later work, dating from 1942, by which time the composer was approaching sixty. Its nine movements are designed for a variety of different forces, including voice, piano and string quartet. This is one of Turina’s most unusual and ambitious anthologies, a curious translation of Greek mythology to his homeland. Who better to explain this Greco-Andalusian cycle than the composer himself, who said the following on the night of the première (28 December 1944): “Transplanting the Greek Muses to Spain may seem strange to begin with, and yet it is not the first such journey they have undertaken. I chose to dress them, on this occasion, in Andalusian garb. I have tried to interpret them quite broadly and to portray them using a variety of timbres and instrumental combinations, in order, as far as possible, to avoid any sense of monotony.” The first (Clío), seventh (Urania) and eighth (Terpsícore) movements were written for piano solo.
Turina began work on En el cortijo (Impresiones andaluzas) (On the Farm – Impressions of Andalusia) in April 1936. When war broke out a few weeks later, however, he laid down his pen. He took the piece up again on 12 June 1939, soon after the end of the conflict, finishing its four sections on 17 January 1940. Two years later, on 2 February 1942, the cycle was given its première by the Cadiz-born pianist José Cubiles in Madrid, as part of a recital at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.
Its four movements alternate between slow and fast episodes. As always, there are abundant allusions to Andalusian rhythms, embellished with a virtuosity that amply demonstrates the skill of Turina’s pianistic writing. An expressive, mysterious atmosphere is created in the opening number, La noche en el campo (Night in the Countryside), with repeated glissandos and trills conjuring the movements of the clear night air in rural Spain, while a melody based on full chords develops around them. By contrast, A la sombra del caserío (In the Shadow of the Farmhouse), is lighthearted and catchy, then Horizontes y llanuras (Horizons and Plains) unfolds in an ambiance of slowly swirling mists, the delicacy of the opening bars reminiscent of Debussy’s La Cathédrale engloutie. The finale brings a complete change of tone, as the dashing Allegro vivo of Caballistas (Horsemen) conjures up the sound of horses galloping across the Andalusian plains.
© Justo Romero
English translation by Susannah Howe
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