One of the works that I consider among the most important in my production -or, at least, one of the ones that I feel most satisfied with- is my Concerto for violin and orchestra, composed in 1987 by commission of the International Festival of Contemporary Music of Alicante . It seems to me that it perfectly sums up my aesthetic approaches at that time -current, today, for the most part-, as well as being a meeting point for a series of procedures that are especially dear to me. In my catalogue, this Concerto is a kind of general balance, in which a series of concerns and obsessions pointed out in previous works come together, and are definitively exorcised in this one.
What, in general terms, I propose in this work is a journey through an aesthetic world deliberately lacking in "uniformity" -insofar as it is understood to be centered on a single style or language-, but not for that reason of a coherence that is not given so much by the economy of the means used, as by the existence of elements of timbral and harmonic character that contrast with each other to the same extent that they complement each other.
Poster of the 4th International Contemporary Music Festival (Alicante, September de 1988)
The Concerto consists of three clearly differentiated movements. The first of them poses a game of timbral contrasts and oppositions between the violin and the orchestra. The latter produces only noises -understanding this term in the old way, as indeterminate sounds, or not previously determined- by means of the use of blows with the knuckles and drumming of the fingers on the sounding boards of the stringed instruments, together with the use by part of the percussion of untuned membrane instruments (the percussion part is so important in this work that it could well be called "Concerto for violin, percussion and orchestra"). The discourse of the violin unfolds on this atmosphere, generating a clear opposition between noise and music, the latter being conceived throughout this movement in a free atonal language, in which different thematic ideas are proposed that will later reappear throughout the work, in a clear cyclical treatment of them.
The second movement, almost a classical rondo form, serves as the scherzo of the work. The main section, borrowed from the Sonata da chiesa, for viola and piano, of 1987, is written within the more strictly academic twelve-tone principles. As a refrain it appears twice, and in each of them only 24 of the 48 twelve-tone series derived from a main series are used. Now, I allowed myself a playful variant that makes all the apparent seriousness of the method lose its rigor and crumble. In each intervention of the series, whether in its original, inverted, retrograde or inverted retrograde form, as well as in all its transpositions, I have deliberately omitted one note: the G. Due to this, no two series are the same, since they all differ at the point where the G leaves its gap, thus modifying the entire series. As a scherzante detail, the G, highlighted by its absence throughout the entire chorus, closes both interventions of the same, its presence being emphasized this time by appearing alone and duplicated in the entire orchestra.
This game of absence, first, and presence, later, of the G note, manages to emphasize said sound, taking it as the basis for the subsequent stylistic evolution of the Concerto. After a first cadence, the refrain is re-exposed, now using the 24 series not used the previous time. The second couplet is in charge of a dramatic section, in which the highest sounds of the violin are superimposed, in an impossible dialectic, on the lowest sounds of the bassoons, the horns, the trombones and the tuba. That climate is broken to give way to a coda, in which the scherzante character of this second movement is recovered, and in which I used repetitive procedures that gradually engulf the soloist, until they completely annihilate him.
After that coda there is a long cadence of the soloist, in which the language approaches from an atonality tamed by the serial treatment to a modalism that we soon identify as related to the Phrygian mode whose tonic is precisely the G note ( the choice of this note is not free either: remember that it is the lowest note of the violin). This cadence gives way to a transition section towards the third movement, in which for two minutes orchestra and soloist display a single static sonority, based on the chord of C major. With this, a new transformation has taken place: the G, Phrygian tonic, has changed its function, as we would say in a harmony class, and has begun to behave as dominant, producing a modulation to the key of C major.
This entry into the new harmonic climate generated by the apparently static presence, but with a great internal dynamism, as has been seen, of the harmony of C major, does not take long to lead to a large fragment of music composed in a frankly tonal language, which goes through a series of sections centered respectively, in the keys of C major, B minor, C♯ minor and again C major. Obviously, the two intermediate keys, B minor and C♯ minor, act as neighbours tonalities of the main key of C major. At the end of the third movement, the music returns to the initial climate, recapitulating the timbral world of the opposition between noise and music, within the same free atonal treatment. In a final act of humility, the soloist leaves his bow and joins, drumming and hitting his instrument, in the orchestral group, which gradually disappears, leaving him alone in that -for him, new- sound climate.
Program of the premiere of the Concerto for violin and orchestra
The Concerto for violin and orchestra was premiered in Alicante, in September 25, 1988, by Víctor Martín and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra conducted by Víctor Pablo Pérez. Among his numerous subsequent performances, the one conducted in 1990 at the Granada Festival by Gennady Rozdestvensky stands out, always with Víctor Martín as soloist.
Violinist Víctor Martín (1940-2017)
In January 1992, the Concerto was included in the program of the opening concert of "Madrid, European Capital of Culture", in the performance of Víctor Martín and the National Orchestra of Spain conducted by Víctor Pablo Pérez.
In 1991, the same performers of the premiere starred in the first recording of the work, which was published in 1995 on a CD by the Discobi label. That same recording, together with the Concerto for piano and orchestra, was part of a monographic CD edited by the Canarias Music Festival and published in 2005 on the Col Legno label. In 2014 it was recorded again, this time with Ara Malikian as soloist and the Córdoba Orchestra conducted by José Luis Temes, for a new monographic CD for the Verso label, together with Exequias (In memoriam Fernando Zóbel).
Cover of the CD of the Discobi label (1995)
Cover of the CD of the Col Legno label (2005) (See review below and by clicking this link)
Correa Cruz, Víctor José Luis Turina: Aesthetics and technical features through the study of his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1987)
Doctoral thesis (parts I and II). South Carolina University, 2005
JL TURINA. Piano Concerto; Violin Concerto
Por Erik Levi
(Crítica publicada en la revista BBC Music Magazine, en enero de 2006)
A memorable closing concert
By Guillermo García-Alcalde
(Review published in the newspaper Alicantes's Information. September 26, 1988)
The closing concert, last night at the Principal, convened all the conditions for a great event: absolute premiere of the latest commission from the CDMC for the Festival (the Violin Concerto by José Luis Turina), audition of a composer from Alcoy (Vícmar by Javier Darias ), an orchestra in a plethora of faculties (the Tenerife Symphony), an irresistible young director on the rise (Víctor Pablo Pérez), a violinist at a great moment (Víctor Martín) and a successful debut singer (Margarita Zimmermann). An immortal piece, El amor brujo by Falla, was the culmination of brilliance and enthusiasm. The theater was full, presenting the best entry of an intense week that sets the bar very high for these contemporary dates in Alicante.
Turina's Concerto for violin and orchestra summarizes a "state of the art" of the latest music in Spain and in the world. Tradition and invention become complementary and interdependent to form the backbone of one of the richest and most imaginative results of our latest generation of composers. Talent and craft are, equally, inseparable wickers of that writing that transmits, in the first place, the seal of a "sound personality" made and mature. The "klangideal" of an author of Turina's age is still, necessarily, a matter in progress. But the private data are present and strongly individualize his thought and language. The premiered work is based on three realities: the ability to arouse an auditory expectation or a tension in anticipation of the events that are insinuated, arrive, pass and even repeat themselves without exhausting their poetic loads: the mastery in fixing the exact point of balance of expressive effusiveness and constructive rigor; and the elegance, the alacrity, the refinement of the color mixtures, the sequences of movement, the instrumental reliefs and the diaphanous entity of all the motifs, whether solo, by sections or in "tutti".
The richness of the sound palette and the instinct of proportions allow Turina to delimit each thematic block and specify each linguistic element with an admirable pulse, economy and dosing criteria. The circularity of some of the concerto's motifs, the character and the perfect coherence of the distribution of its parts allow the violin soloist a free and fantasizing discourse, a permanent escape from the cadence character and an improvisatory air that Víctor Martín has prodigiously served and expressed, with the technical mastery of a work with a large repertoire and the apparent licenses of an open structure. Beautiful sound, exceptional cantabile and virtuosity of the best law, without showiness or pyrotechnics, were the soloist's contribution to a resounding success, worked with exceptional meticulousness and commitment by the Tenerife Orchestra and Víctor Pablo Pérez. Everything is presented with brilliance, richness, and emotion: the romanticizing twists, the tonal entries, the originality of the sound generation, the dynamic subtleties, and the unnerving speculation about a mystery that may be, in a word, that of beauty. Nothing more and nothing less.
The Tenerife Symphony triumphantly lowered the curtain
By Sergio Balseyro
(Review published in the newspaper La Verdad. Alicante, september 27, 1988)
The closing day of this festival, last Sunday, saw the largest influx of public in the Teatro Principal and one of the greatest successes among the premieres, the Concerto for violin and orchestra by J. L. Turina. [...]
The quality of the Symphony concert increased with the presence of solo violin Víctor Martín, concertmaster of the National Orchestra, who had an inspired evening, and the principal conductor, Víctor Pablo Pérez, who led the orchestra with authority and expression.
The world premiere of the Concerto for violin and orchestra by José Luis Turina did not disappoint at all the expectations it had raised. Víctor Martín brilliantly and sensitively assumed the leading role of the violin throughout the entire work, showing his virtuosity especially in cadences and in the vertiginous final coda. Quite a tribute to the violin, strongly applauded.
Closing of the Alicante Festival, with the absolute premiere of Josťacute; Luis Turina
By Leopoldo Hontañón
(Review published in the newspaper Abc. September 27, 1988)
Not only attractive, but worthy of being considered a milestone within these Alicante tests, in which, on the other hand, the outstanding events have not been lacking, it has been the closing concert of the Teatro Principal. For various reasons, of which the world premiere of the work commissioned to José Luis Turina (Madrid, 1952), a splendid Concerto for violin and orchestra, is the first. We have found ourselves, from the outset, in the audition of this premiere from Alicante, with an irreproachable, perfect violinistic writing throughout, practically, its half hour of duration in which there are few moments in which the soloist instrument remains "tacet ". A perfection that seems to me to transcend what would be too simple an explanation that Turina had once been a conscientious worker in violin mechanics and technique. There is too much of a pure and strictly creative component in what the soloist is made to say to reduce it to calligraphic success. There is then -or before?- the formidable macro-structuring work of the formal. The least of it is that a tripartite organization involved in a paracyclical solution signs up. What matters most is how sharply the whole is put together with the juxtaposition of successive agonistic events between solo and orchestra, with formations by themselves of a coherent architecture.
The new violin concerto was a success of great proportions, shared by the author with the performers: it is time to say that they were Víctor Martín and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its new head, Víctor Pablo Pérez. I don't think that Martín's solo work could have been improved by any violinist, here or abroad. The responsibility with which he had assumed the commitment, together with his colossal class as an instrumentalist, his high capacity for understanding any stylistic proposal, his incomparable sound and the enormous variety of his technical resources, provided a true art show. A show that took on its roundest significance with the magnificent, no less responsible contribution of the Tenerife symphonic group -with a special appointment here for an exact and nuanced percussion-, very well led by Víctor Pablo Pérez.
"El amor brujo", by Falla, a brilliant climax to two outstanding performances by the Tenerife Orchestra
By José Guerrero Martín
(Review published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, September 28, 1988)
The Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of its head Víctor Pablo Pérez, put a brilliant and tremendous end to the 4th International Festival of Contemporary Music of Alicante. Go ahead that it is a great orchestral group in which the Spanish are in the overwhelming minority and in which foreigners come from more than ten nationalities. His perfect filling, his quality in all the groups and his indisputable professionalism result in a warm, soft and caressing sound. As for Víctor Pablo Pérez, he is already a great conductor whose youth will immediately project him to very high levels in musical direction.
The absolute premiere of José Luis Turina's Concerto for violin and orchestra will remain in the memory of all of us who have been able to listen to it on this occasion. A large-scale, homogeneous, compact work, in which the orchestral mastery and the possession of a seamless craft are evident, Turina achieves from the beginning a climate of expectation from which the listener's attention does not stop for a second. Beautiful and surprising score, in which the tension is discharged intermittently after an explosion derived from a gradual ascending process, has the common thread of the violin part, imaginative and truly pleasant, which in this premiere has had a magnificent Víctor Martín, full of form and sensitivity.
Closure of the Alicante Festival
By Víctor Burell
(Review published in the newspaper Cinco días. Madrid, September 28, 1988)
The last day of the 4th International Festival of Contemporary Music of Alicante has been a success, both due to the choice of the works that made up the program and their interpretation, again by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, conducted this time by its principal conductor, Víctor Pablo Pérez.
The group, with performers of the level of the first violin, viola, cello, oboe, clarinet and flute, managed to return us to the opinion that this Canarian orchestra is today the best of Spain.
The opposite would happen with the performance of Víctor Martín as soloist in the Concerto for violin and orchestra by José Luis Turina, commissioned by the CDMC, which, requiring absolute protagonism of the violin, had a translation that was surely unsurpassed in sound and tuning, and primarily because of the understanding of the work. Heir to the spirit of the great concertos in history, it creates such a character of tension that its proportions (more than thirty-five minutes) never seem stretched out, both because of the general coherence and because of the permanent inventiveness that leaves the possibilities of the instrument practically exhausted. The richness of a very free percussion, the drama in the use of brass and the sparse treatment of the strings, which is accentuated in what could be considered the third movement, with an originality in accordance with the tonalism, make the composition a definitive work in today's music scene.
The take off of the young
By Arturo Reverter
(Review published in the magazine Scherzo. November 1988)
It has been seen -and this Alicante event thus fulfills one of its main purposes- that there is a good deal of talent among the youngest creators, still in many cases to be refined and sifted, and it has been proven that, although stylistically and technically dispersed, there is a generation that is not exempt from preparation and with some things to say. Three orchestral works have captured much of the attention in recent days.
In José Luis Turina it is less surprising to obtain a climate, some effects and the achievement of a musical balance in which it gives the sensation that everything is in its place, that there is no more repetition. Ocnos, premiered this year in Madrid, was an example. It is also, although at a lower level -with a greater degree of concessions-, his Violin Concerto, now presented in Alicante. The safety of the stroke, the clarity of writing are evident; the timbre appeal and the permanent playing with classical harmony, too. Turina proposes an interesting dialogue between a violin (well played by Víctor Martín) tuned in the traditional way, with a writing in which phrases and chords typical of paganinian virtuosity abound, and a masterfully used orchestra, cared for with exquisite finesse, generally worked with other harmonic patterns; especially in the first and third sections. The contrast between the soloist's singing and the fabric and sonority of the ensemble, built with timbres of patches, light percussion, finger taps on the surface of the bowed instruments, their gradual pizzicati, is exciting, as is the dance ancestral insinuated under these elements. It is admirable -although it hides an obvious concession to the gallery, to call it in some way- the way in which the final cadence of the second movement links with the ripieno. The swinging air, the slow entrance, by groups, of the iridescent strings, the long crescendo that sustains everything dynamically, the Ravelian echoes... Everything contributes to obtaining a moment of great beauty and impact. Excellent work by the Tenerife Symphony and Víctor Pablo Pérez.
José Luis Turina, a master of today
By Enrique Franco
(Review published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, May 24, 1990)
The Madrid Symphony Orchestra, conducted by José Ramón Encinar, was in charge of the fifth concert of the cycle organized by the Community of Madrid. There was no great public attendance, perhaps due to "overload", as they say at Telefónica, but an interested and enthusiastic climate did prevail. Encinar multiplies his activities; no one knows where he finds the time to stage and conduct one and another different work, always approached seriously and presented with beautiful musicality.
Later, the Violin Concerto, by José Luis Turina, performed exceptionally in its solo part by Víctor Martín, once again left us with the impression of an early magisterium so frequent when we listen to scores by Turina. If the grandfather raised his head... (I am referring to Don Joaquín, the one of the Sevillian Symphony) I suppose he would shower his offspring with blessings despite the differences in style and technique. Nothing loved Turina as much as the perfection of writing, and in this his grandson José Luis deserves all the applause received, the admiration and esteem that surrounds him.
Work well done
"The work well done", championed by Eugenio D'Ors, has an excellent example in the musician from Madrid. It is also his ability to communicate despite the substantial contemporaneity of his works. But the substance is probably the opposite of the manner, the idiom or the tic, just like the balance and the path that all musical discourse must cover is impossible without some concept of form, without an internal organization that supports the whole of the work and without a certain notion of rhythmic plan. There is enough of all this in the Turina's concerto to fill many comment sheets, especially after the revealing version of Encinar and the orchestra.
José Luis Turina's violin
By Álvaro Guibert
(Review published in the newspaper Diario 16. Madrid, May 24, 1990)
But the lack of interest in these works was more than compensated for by the delicious, and widely applauded, Concerto for violin and orchestra by the composer José Luis Turina, which served as a setting.
José Ramón Encinar was able to achieve a splendid sound in the Symphony Orchestra -which has already risen to the front row of our orchestras- and presented an impeccable version of the not-so-easy orchestral part.
As for Víctor Martín, he seems the ideal performer for this difficult concert. The subtleties of his phrasing, his amazing ease, the quality of his sound, but, above all, the musicality when connecting with the aesthetic world of the work weaved a very successful version. Even better than the one he himself offered on the day of the premiere of this Concerto at the Alicante Festival two years ago.
This Concerto, which was widely applauded, has a confessed character of homage to the instrument. And on the rebound, it is also a gift to the listener, who is overwhelmed by the carnality with which Turina exhibits the expressive potential of the violin and by the mastery with which he resolves the soloist-orchestra dialogue.
José Luis Turina no longer has to prove anything. At his age he is already a master, recognized by all, owner of an unmistakable style, an amazing technique, an exquisite musicality, author of at least a dozen works of great quality. To the extent that he accepts and exercises the aesthetic freedom that this well-deserved position gives him, he will occupy a key position in our musical history.
José Ramón Encinar or the spirit of 92
By Juan Jesús Doreste Aguilar
(Review published in the newspaper La Provincia. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, January 29, 1992)
The best of the program came to be in the most current work: the Concerto for violin and orchestra (1987) by José Luis Turina from Madrid (1952), who, and continuing with the musical connections, is the nephew of the well-known Joaquí n Turina. Turina is one of the strongest and safest values of the last generations, and works like the one we heard show it. Written with a magnificent orchestral craft, the mastery shown in the discursiveness of the sound message is no less. The author knows how to combine the best of the language of recent decades with everything that is valid from tradition and the result is an impeccable work of great communicativeness. For me, and I know how risky such a personal judgment is, it is the most important contemporary work that has been heard in the entire history of the Festival (and note that I am not including Pierrot Lunaire or the Quartet for the end of time as contemporary). Víctor Martín, concertmaster of the O.N.E. itself, embroidered the work; this is not surprising, given that since its premiere he has been its interpreter, and this concerto, fortunately, has not followed the path of the majority of commissioned works, which is to be born and die on the same night: that of the premiere. The conductor, in turn, carried out an impeccable dissection job, without denying at any time the playful and romantic side of the work, supported by a good response from the musicians.
The JORCAM: the contemporary and the repertoire
By Santiago Martín Bermúdez
(Review published in the no. 339 of the magazine Scherzo. Madrid, April 2018)
José Luis Turina's Violin Concerto exposes the soloist not only to the aggressiveness of the percussion family (which sometimes loosens up as if giving him room, respite), but also to the welcoming or at least not so overwhelming welcome of other families. Because, one would say, this is about families together or in front of the soloist. It is not just about chamber music accompaniments; it goes a bit further in the number of musicians, it goes to the instrumental families, from the percussive forcefulness at the beginning to the subtlety of weftis at the heart of the piece (three movements, no title, what for). And those families mark the weft, more than the timbre. Soloist and families (strings, woodwinds, for example) form a growth that is a weft. The virtuoso, Luis Esnaola, develops unstoppably with these families and reaches the culmination of the work with the complicity of Jordi Francés: a culmination that does not coincide with the decibel apex. Contemporary composers, it is known, often scare us with unexpectedly loud sounds that spoil the works.
The most subtle (worn word, yes, but indicating the thin versus the thick) is the most penetrating; not the deepest or the most pretentious: the elegance of the (more or less) heart of the piece, that apparently rondo that apparently is scherzo, now that the forms do not command, but rather obey. And even less so when this work was composed, which is from 1987. With works like this, from yesteryear, but also with which we occasionally hear him today, Turina demonstrates that he is one of the Spanish composers of true artistic level. This Violin Concerto has had the good fortune to be today in the hands of whom we have already invoked, that of the young virtuoso Luis Esnaola, who seemed very involved with the group of very young and dedicated JORCAM musicians. Esnaola was not in the world when Turina's Concerto was premiered. Then it was played by the unforgettable Víctor Martín, another enormous virtuoso.