El Poema de una Sanluqueña, op. 28, by Joaquín Turina

(Notes for the CD booklet of the RTVE Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by Luis Izquierdo)


After Seville, it could well be said that Sanlúcar de Barrameda is Joaquín Turina's "second musical homeland", since, as well as being named Adopted Son of that city in 1922, two very significant works from his catalogue were written under its suggestion. On the one hand, the very important piano sonata Sanlúcar de Barrameda, op. 24, from 1921, which is one of the summits of Spanish piano in the first half of the century: if its technical treatment, complex and extremely virtuosic, makes it heir to Albéniz's Suite Iberia, its constructive rigour and the ambition of its scope place it a step ahead of the former, by attempting to reconcile the exuberant instrumental treatment with the formal postulates of the school of César Franck, which Turina, after his time at the "Schola Cantorum", imported for Spain on his return from Paris in 1913. On the other hand, this Poema de una Sanluqueña, op. 28, composed in 1923, only two years after the piano sonata, for a violín-piano duo.
Curiously, neither of these two works is among the most popular music of its author, although the Poema enjoys a relative greater diffusion, undoubtedly due to the fact of the small number of Spanish works composed for violin and piano, compared to the hyper-abundant piano production. Turina was probably the author who paid the greatest attention in Spain to the violin-piano duo, among the composers of his generation: reviewing his catalog we find, in addition to the Poema, with the important Sonata nº 1, op. 51, and Sonata nº 2, op. 82 ("Spanish Sonata"), the Classical Variations, op. 72, a number of the collection Las Musas de Andalucía, op. 93 (specifically No. 2, entitled "Eutherpe: en plena fiesta"), and one of his last works: the Homenaje a Navarra, op. 102. It is also significant the existence of an early Spanish Sonata which, although rigorously contemporary with his Quintet, op. 1, was rejected by its author, undoubtedly considering it of little personal and indefinite style.
El Poema de una Sanluqueña, like its "countrywoman", the sonata Sanlúcar de Barrameda, is a solid work in four movements, along which a couple of unifying thematic ideas circulate. This is already more than enough to detect the very strong influence that the cyclical postulates of César Franck had for Turina, and very specifically the Symphony in D minor and his Sonata for violin and piano, whose global form he adopted for the composition of these two works. As is obvious, it is in the first movement, entitled "Before the mirror", where the two thematic ideas we refer to are exposed: a gloomy and melancholic andante is followed by an allegretto that serves as the tempo of the first idea, of marked popular character. The movement ends with a second andante, in which the second idea, called "Hymn to Beauty", is exposed. The second movement ("La Canción del Lunar") acts as a scherzo; its character and the formula that serves as an accompaniment to the solo violin reminds us of a well-known page from Turina: Cantares, from the Poema en forma de canciones, op. 19. "Hallucinations" is the suggestive title of the third movement. In it the popular thematic idea appears again, followed by the culminating point of the work, in which the "Hymn to Beauty" acquires a great solemnity. The work closes in the movement entitled "The Rosary in the Church", of a contemplative nature, where both thematic ideas come together again. Towards the end, the popular theme is deeply transformed, until it acquires an almost religious character, which is helped by the evocation of the sounds of bells present during a good part of this fragment.
"This poem -Turina commented- is inspired by the following phrase that I heard a girl from Sanlúcar say: 'Sanluqueñas do not marry and Sanluqueños marry foreigners.' As an adoptive sanluqueño I wanted to stick up for my countrywomen, these beautiful Andalusian women who live in sad and perpetual reverie. This is not a descriptive work, but an essay that could be considered as a state of the soul; that is, I intend to express a completely suggestive emotional aspect. This contrasts with my previous works, like La Procesión del Rocío, for example, which are purely descriptive."
El Poema de una Sanluqueña, dedicated "to the girls of Sanlúcar", was premiered at the Victoria Theater in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on July 20th, 1924, by the violinist Manuel Romero and the composer at the piano. Turina proceeded to orchestrate the first two movements of the work for the Bética Orchestra of Seville in 1925. The data regarding a possible interpretation of said instrumentation, as well as the reasons why the last two movements were not orchestrated, are unknown. In 1980 I had the honor of receiving an invitation from the Bética Orchestra to finish the work started by Joaquín Turina, concluding the orchestration in January 1981, and the full version was premiered in the cloister of the San Jerónimo de Buenavista monastery in Seville on September 18th, 1982, within the II International Festival of Music and Dance of Seville, dedicated that year to Joaquín Turina in commemoration of the centenary of his birth, performed by the violinist Pedro León and the Seville Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Luis Izquierdo.
Because it is something obvious, I think there is little to add about the difficulty involved in completing a job started by another composer, especially when it contains, as in that case, large doses of imagination and artistic content in which there can by room for discoincidence between who starts the job and who finishes it. A task like this must be approached with illusion and enthusiasm, but also with humility and modesty; and, armed with those four elements, I wanted to carry out the instrumentation that Turina could have done: I adopted the template of the two existing numbers; I carefully studied the orchestration of the fragments "common" to the different movements (the cyclical postulates of César Franck were of great help this time); and I had no problem in cross-dressing my own way of doing with the different timbral costumes characteristic of the orchestral music of Joaquín Turina: the passages of celesta and the set of timbres, as well as the parallel harmonies distributed between the first stands of violins and violas are just a sample of this, as well as of affection and respect for a music and an author loved and admired.

november 1991