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The mysterious and evocative music of Joaquin Turina

The mysterious and evocative music of Joaquin Turina featured image

Pictured: tenor Jose Carreras, a champion of Turina

December 9, 2019

Joaquin Turina is one of those composers you may not have heard of, and when you hear his music, you wonder why – his music is evocative, well-crafted, sultry, and layered with interesting textures. He was friends with Manuel de Falla, who did achieve the status of being part of the standard repertoire. If Turina’s music sounds a bit Impressionistic to you, your ear is good – Turina studied in Paris, and was mentored by Debussy, Ravel, and Dukas. After experimenting with composing in the French style, it was at a Paris café (where else?) that Isaac Albéniz and Manuel de Falla encouraged him to compose in a distinctly Spanish style.

Influenced by the Andalusian style (which flamenco music is all about), Turina wrote operas, lute and string quartets, chamber music, piano music, guitar pieces and many songs, accompanied by piano. Sometimes when accompanying singers, the pianist is faced with unchallenging music (and may show up to rehearsal and sight read), but with Turina, the music is just as complex as the singer’s. Singer and pianist are rendered equals. Thank goodness famed tenor José Carreras recorded “Poema en forma de canciones” (“Poems in the form of songs”) to bring more attention to this amazing and underrated composer. Note there is an interlude for pianist alone.

Tenor José Carreras with pianist Martin Katz.

Joaquin Turina was born December 9, 1882 in Seville, Spain, and died January 14, 1949, in Madrid.


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