This disc forms part of our ongoing Spanish Music series, performed by the BBC Philharmonic and its Chief Conductor, Juanjo Mena. Here the focus is on the orchestral works of the composer Joaquín Turina, one of the two leading Spanish composers of the twentieth century, the other being Manuel de Falla.
Turina was a prolific composer, who in his sixty-seven years wrote more than one hundred works, in which he explored a wide range of classical genres, from symphonic music, solo piano pieces, and vocal works to ballet scores and chamber music. Most of these show the influences of traditional Andalusian music and folk tunes, often conveying feelings of rapture and immense exaltation, while also owing a debt to a range of French composers.
Turina lived in Paris from 1905 to 1914, and during this time, while taking composition lessons from Vincent d’Indy and getting to know Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, he absorbed certain aspects of the French style. These influences are particularly evident in Danzas fantásticas and Sinfonia sevillana. While both these works are heavily inspired by the sights and sounds of Turina’s native Seville, they also display hints of French impressionism, inevitably calling Debussy to mind.
Turina was as thrilled by the sound and style of Andalusian folk singers as he was by folksong itself, and in terms of his songs, Poema en forma de canciones (Poem in the form of songs), originally for voice and piano, is probably the best known work. Here, as in ‘Farruca’ from Triptico, the orchestra and conductor are joined by the Spanish mezzo soprano Clara Mouriz for truly idiomatic performances.
Ritmos (Rhythms) was written originally as a ballet, which never reached the stage; nevertheless it proved brilliantly effective in the concert hall. The score itself does not relate to any specific scenario, but follows a progression, which Turina himself described as ‘a gradual journey from darkness into light’.
The Saeta is the only work on this disc in which Turina completely steps away from the influences of folk tune-inspired Andalusian dance rhythms. This is a beautifully written devotional song ‘in the form of a Salutation to the Virgin of Hope’.
“The three vocal items here are novelties...They are sung with ravishing sweetness of tone by Clara Mouriz, who sounds born to sing them...Mena's accounts of the Danzas, Ritmos and Sinfonia stand up well against some strong competition. The orchestra's playing and Chandos's sumptuous sound place this new disc in the front rank.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2013
“Turina’s highly rhythmic and vivid coloration combined with his passionate approach invariably produce steamy evocations of baking Spanish sunshine. With infectious enjoyment Mena and the BBC Phil ideally capture the expressive mood of these joyous scores.” MusicWeb International, 2nd May 2013
“Juanjo Mena’s performances are perfectly judged, the rhythms sprung with ineffable lightness and the textures clear...As an introduction to an unfairly neglected composer, this disc couldn’t be bettered. It’s also very nicely recorded.” The Arts Desk, 9th March 2013