home > list of works > chamber & ensembles > four instruments > Lama Sabacthani?

Crucifixion of Christ (particular). Creta, 17th century. Menil Collection (Houston, Texas), donated by George R. Bunker

Lama Sabacthani?

for String Quartet

Recording and Video
Download score


Despite its title, and despite being a work commissioned by Radio Nacional de España for its then usual annual Easter premieres, Lama sabacthani? does not claim in any way to be a religious work, nor even to evoke that character in the listener, since the quote from the New Testament (Matthew, XXVII, 45-47) that heads the score motivates the work more in its form than in its bottom. Therefore, it will be convenient to remember that the "Eli! Eli !, lama sabacthani?" (that is: "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?"), the culminating point of the Gospel due to its drama and emotional charge, has its continuation in the "This man is calling Elijah" of "some of the bystanders hearing it". And it is precisely this misunderstanding, which so vividly contrasts with the previous drama, creating an unexpected, almost tragicomic situation, which gives rise to the work. The old and always current history of contrasting ideas.

Lama sabacthani? is structured in a ternary way, opening and closing by means of an A flat. The first section consists of the development of ten microscopic cells that are exposed at the beginning of it. The second section, divided into four parts and all of a dramatic nature, closes with the quote from "Lama sabacthani?" de Passion according to St. Mathew by J. S. Bach, in charge of the cello. Finally, the third section is a summarized reexposition of the first.

J. S. Bach, Passion according St. Mathew, n. 71

The work, dedicated to Carlos Colón, was written in Rome in January 1980, and premiered on Radio 2 (the current Classical Radio) of Radio Nacional de España on April 4 of the same year, in a recording made by the quartet. of the Grupo Koan conducted by José Ramón Encinar. Curiously, the first concert audition took place by the same performers at the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts in Rome -where it was composed- on October 27, 1980.

Program of the concert held at the Spanish Academy Fine Arts
(Roma, 27 de octubre de 1980)

(1) "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Elijah”.

The Koan Ensemble in the early 1980s

Lama sabacthani? first page

Recording and Video

Recording RNE: Koan Ensemble (Dir.: José Ramón Encinar)

Video of the concert held on march 29th, 2009, at the Residencia de Estudiantes of Madrid, within the cycle Masters & Pupils20:57 24/09/2021

I. Introduction by José Luis Turina

II. Lama sabacthani? Performers: Mauro Rossi and Ane Matxain (violins),
Cristina Pozas (viola) and Miguel Jiménez (cello)


The ebb affects the Spanish musical avant-garde
(Review of the Koan Ensemble concert at the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, published in the newspaper "L'Unità". October 1980)

Of particular importance, Lama sabacthani?, for string quartet, by José Luis Turina, a page of astonishing sound, which evokes, with lively internal dynamism and tense drama, the Gospel episode, in which a traditional melodic allusion stands out congruently and pertinently to enrich, without contradictions, a quality text, made with sobriety of means.

Il riflusso investe l'avanguardia musicale spagnola

[...] Di rilievo particolare, Lama sabacthani?, per quartetto d'archi, di José Luis Turina, una pagina di stupefatte sonorità, evocante, con vivo dinamismo interiore e tesa drammaticità, l'episodio evangelico, nella quale un accenno melodico tradizionale risalta congruo e pertinente ad arrichire, senza contraddizioni, un testo di qualità, realizzato con sobrietà di mezzi

Download pdf

(Score and parts without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )