Turina: Escena andaluza; Piano Quintet, Op. 1; Serenata; El poema de una sanluqueña; Erato

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COMPOSERS: Turina
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Escena andaluza; Piano Quintet, Op. 1; Serenata; El poema de una sanluqueña; Erato
PERFORMER: Philip Dukes (viola), Eileen Hulse (voice), Roland Roberts (violin), Miyako Hashimoto (piano); Amigos String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84443
Though he’s routinely numbered among Spain’s great composers, I find it difficult to get excited about Turina. Technically he may be a master; he’s always refined, aristocratic, discreet, tasteful – but the music, however charming, is all surface, lacking in bite or indeed any unrestrained emotion. These discs provide a handy conspectus of his chamber music – a genre he cultivated with more dedication

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than any other significant Spanish composer of his time – throughout his career. The rather D’Indy-like Op. 1 Piano Quintet was premiered at the Schola Cantorum in the presence of Falla and Albéniz, who allegedly forbade Turina to write in that style again but to base his work on Spanish folk idioms. He took the injunction to heart (in fact the F major Piano Trio, which now receives its first recording, pre-dates his Paris student years and has more Spanish Nationalist local colour). Occasionally one stumbles on something striking (the early sextet Escena andaluza, with its smoky obbligato viola, or the vibrant Poema de una sanluqueña, a dramatic violin sonata in all but name and superbly played here). But as the later piano trios confirm, the prevailing mixture is Fauré and Jerez. Not that Turina enthusiasts need hesitate. Naxos gives the Trío Arbós a slightly dry acoustic; it plays well, but Meridian’s British (and Japanese) players are clearly just as dedicated to the fastidious gentleman from Seville, and their sound has more warmth and bloom. Calum MacDonald