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ClassicsOnline Home » TURINA, J.: Piano Music, Vol. 4 (Maso) - Ninerias / Miniaturas / Jardins d'enfants
Along with Falla, Albéniz, Granados and Mompou, Joaquín Turina made an outstanding
contribution to Spanish piano repertoire. This fourth volume of Turina’s complete piano music
focuses on the child’s universe. The two sets of Niñerías both evoke the composer’s own Andalusian
childhood memories and capture images of his own children playing in the yard or among the
streets and small squares of some unidentified town. Miniaturas inhabit the childhood fantasy
world of Debussy’s Children’s Corner, while Jardín de niños (Jardins d’enfants), dedicated to the
composer’s daughter, recreates a world of tenderness and fantasy but also one of charm and great
humour. Previous volumes in this series are available on 8.557150, 8.557438 and 8.557684.
By David Denton
Joaquín Turina (1882-1949)
Niñerías • Miniaturas • Jardín de niños (Jardins d'enfants)
The child's universe, the 'homeland of the artist', repossessed by the poet, has been a recurrent source of inspiration for numerous composers, Bach, Bartók, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Prokofiev and Schumann being just a few of the many musicians whose creative vision was enriched by the world of childhood. Joaquín Turina, a native of Seville, also turned to the landscapes of his childhood memories to steep himself (without abandoning his well known characteristic expressiveness) in the imaginative world of children. Turina creates concise, fresh landscapes in sound, sometimes recapturing the atmosphere of his Andalusian childhood or otherwise creating images of his immediate circumstances in terms of his own children playing in the yard or among the streets and small squares of some unidentified town, probably in Andalusia.
The Royal Spanish Academy of Language defines the word niñería, 'childishness', as 'a diversion or game, by children or aspects characteristic of children'. In two suites of eight movements, Turina brings together, under a quintessential Spanish title, a collection of miniature pieces in the style of lightly sketched portraits forming a fresco of particular freshness and colour. The French titles reflect the style of the moment and the fact that both series were first published in Paris by Salabert. Turina, who lived in Paris between 1905 and 1913 (studying piano with the famous virtuoso Maurice Moszkowski and composition with Vincent d'Indy at the Schola Cantorum), was profoundly influenced in his personal development and his music by this experience.
The first series of Niñerías was composed between 24 February and 30 March 1919 and published a year later in Paris. The collection, dedicated 'to my beloved children, Joaquín, María and Conchita', was originally named Album for Children, like the famous works of Schumann and Tchaikovsky. Turina, a refined composer with an intimate knowledge of the keyboard (he was an accomplished pianist), adapted his artistic language to a straightforward form devoid of any rhetorical intent without relinquishing a virtuosity comparable to other pieces destined for the realm of adults. Of particular interest is his adroit use of Spanish popular children's melodies, especially in the movement which closes the series, Jeux (Games) which includes the familiar little song, Dónde están las llaves (Where are the Keys?) and the equally well known Porque es un chico excelente (For He's a Jolly Good Fellow).
The eight movements of the second series of Niñerías (1930) were heard for the first time in public on 23 March 1933 at the Salle Gaveau, Paris, performed by Stanislaw Niedzielsky, the dedicatee of the work being Turina's daughter, Conchita, born 1917. As in the first series, the composer's inspiration was his omnipresent Andalusia, his usual expressive mode imbued with that deeply romantic spirit which permeates these eight movements with their self-explanatory titles.
Miniaturas (1929), also comprised of eight movements, was published in 1930 by Schott of Mainz, dedicated 'to Madame Parturière de Medina'. In these eight miniatures, written around the same time as the Sonata for violin and piano in D minor and Ráfaga, Op. 53, for guitar, Turina distances himself (except in Fiesta) from the influences of Andalusia, moving instead towards the opaquely atmospheric world of Debussy, composer of Children's Corner. The instrumental possibilities of these brief pianistic delights were explored in orchestral versions by Wolfgang Schumann and Jürgen Wolf as well as in the arrangement for band by John Krance. Jordi Masó closes this fourth volume of his expanding Turina discography with Jardins d'enfants, Op. 63, (1931), dedicated by the composer to his daughter, Obdulia, born in Madrid in 1921.These are mere sketches, brief pieces almost without development, recreating a world of tenderness and fantasy but also one of charm and great humour, exemplified in the March which opens the set. Sweetness pervades the atmosphere in L'enfant s'endort, while in the third piece, Boîte à musique the spirit of Andalusia, so utterly characteristic of Turina, predominates. In the misty Cloches, the presence of the much admired Debussy can be discerned.
Some of Turina's most characteristic style is deployed in Petite danse but this immediately disappears with Petite fugue, a movement which might well have been composed by his teacher, Vincent d'Indy. Totally original, and unprecedented in Turina's piano music, is Jeux sur la plage where from the opening (a slow glissando ascending with harp-like sonority) the composer of Seville reveals a different language, almost experimental, supported by a pizzicato figuration over which a brief melody sings without lingering long enough to develop further. For his conclusion, Turina reserves a solemn episode in which he includes an expressive central section. (An orchestral version of these pieces was made by Jürgen Wolf in 1976, omitting Petite danse and Final, the fifth and eighth movements.)
English translation: Graham Wade
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