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Richard Wagner (1813-1883)


For Orchestra

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Because I am great-grandson, son and brother of painters, I consider painting as my closest environment. Pentimento is an italian word common to the pictorical language and is used to refer to the parts of a picture painted on the canvas that the artist "repented of" and hurried to correct by covering them up, but with the passage of time they "climb out" or appear and become visible. And likewise, the score attempts to be a transposition of the pictorical phenomenon to the musical staves. What was underneath in the case of Pentimento is a fragment of a string quartet which in the second section of the work "climbs out" more or less timidly, reaching at times emphasis and clarity.

Diego Velázquez, Philip IV on horseback (1635)

Diego Velázquez, Philip IV on horsebakc (particular showing a pentimento)

Pentimento is a piece for large orchestra, that obeys to a tripartite form. The introduction starts out of nothing, by means of an imperceptible sound by the strings, to which the rest of the instrumental families gradually incorporate themselves by musical figures that form like an ornamental garland and accompany the development of the strings, basically made up with eight rhythmic cell which gradually appear together with a harmonic and progressive development (of one to twelve simultaneous sounds).
The intensities and expressive dynamics have in this process a decisive role. With no interruption and after the climax of the first section, the instruments gradually fade away as well as the figures and intensities to, in a natural form, lead us to the apparition of the string quartet, whose presence, more or less veiled and dialoguing with the rest of the orchestra, is the basis for the central section of the work.
The quartet gradually asserts itself over the orchestra in a type of writing that, though it begins by combining an atonal part with a tonal one, openly leads into the latter, freely developing Montsalvat Bells leit-motiv and ending with a great choral variation of the harmonic change of key with which culminates the scene of the consecration of the Holy Grial in Wagner's Parsifal.

Richard Wagner, Parsifal (act I)

Fragment of Pentimento soloist string quartet

Richard Wagner, Parsifal (act I)

../ It can be said that this work is a tribute of admiration to Richard Wagner, its undertaking coinciding with the centenary of his death, given that Pentimento was composed in Cuenca between the months of January and March 1983 (we will recall the fact that Wagner died on February 13th, 1883). The culminating point of this choral variation arrives when the at the beginning timid apparition of this harmonic change of key in the quartet acquires a complete presence in the wood and brass sections.
The third and last part, in which the "repentance" is no longer perceived nor is present, is a short recapitulation of the first section, worked in a retrograde way; that is to say, starting from the climax that ended the first part, the intensities slowly fade away, and the eight rhythmic cells of the strings gradually diappear to conclude in a tenuous sound -quasi niente- with which the piece begun.
Pentimento, composed by commission of the Spanish National Orchestra for the 1983-84 season, is dedicated to Tomás Marco. It was premiered by the orchestra on February 10th 1984, conducted by Jesús López Cobos.

Program of Pentimento premiere (Madrid, 1984)

Some months after its premiere, it was selected by Spanish National Radio to represent our country at the 31st Intenational Composers Tribune, which took place in Paris from may 21st to 26th 1984, participating in this contest along with Claudio Prieto's 2nd Symphony.

Pentimento was recorded in 1990 by Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by José Luis Temes, and included in a CD of the label Discobilbao in the same year. Later, it was part of the monographic CDs "Contemporary spanish music" (Gasa, 1991) and "José Luis Turina. A Portrait" (Verso, 2008), with which the collection "Spanish and latinoamerican composers of contemporary music" of the Foundation BBVA was inaugurated.

Cover page of CD of Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra (1990)

Cover page of the CD "Spanish contemporary music" (1991)

Cover page of the CD "José Luis Turina. A portrait" (2008)


Recording: Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra (Cond.: José Luis Temes)

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First page of Pentimento

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"Pentimento", by José Luis Turina, a goldsmith's work
By Fernando Ruiz Coca
(Review published in the newspaper "Ya". Madrid, February 12, 1984)

A grandson of Joaquín Turina, José Luis (Madrid, 1952), is revalidating his illustrious surname, albeit in ways that are very different from those of his grandfather. With a very complete university and musical training, his career and catalog of works has awarded titles in competitions as important as the 1978 Golden Harp, in which he was a finalist with his Crucifixus, later heard in the Religious Music Week of Cuenca. Author of a radio story for adults, Sin orden ni concierto, with his own text and music, he is also the author of an opera, Ligazón.
Now we have his most recent page, Pentimento, written by commission of the National Orchestra, which, directed by López Cobos, has brought his first audition at the Real. Scarcely ten minutes long, it is divided into three movements that are performed without interruption. In the centerpiece, in the meticulous orchestral structure, a fragment of a string quartet is revealed, gradually enlarged to a Wagnerian chorale. Precisely, the word "Pentimento" means in pictorial slang the reappearance of a painting that had been covered with a later one.
This episode is framed between two extremes whose development is reversed: from a "pianísimo" to a "climax", the first, and the same, on the contrary, the other one, reveals in the young composer a great mastery in the use of orchestral resources , whose dynamics is ordered by the double path of intensities and density accumulation. Very well seen the intention and the strictly musical sense of the score by López Cobos, it was played with convincing clarity, deserving much applause.

The Saga Turina
By Tomás Marco
(Review published in the newspaper Diario 16. Madrid, February 12, 1984)

Turina's name figures prominently in Spanish musical history, but now has continuity in the Sevillian composer's grandson: José Luis Turina, from Madrid, thirty-one years old, current secretary of the Cuenca Conservatory and author of already important works, such as Crucifixus or the opera Ligazón.
Commissioned by ONE, Turina has written Pentimento, which López Cobos has just premiered with success. And it is because it is a work of rigorous form, exquisite instrumental treatment of the great orchestra and careful proportions. It is a poetic work, at the same time intellectual and sensorial, contained in development and of great timbral and formal interest. Turina has a splendid job, but also something to say. It is a firm value of the last Spanish compositional generation.
López Cobos carefully studied the work, rehearsed it well, with the collaboration of the orchestra, and placed it at the top of the program. A whole service to Spanish music. And as there was work, version and conviction, the success was clear.

Soloists of the Nacional, with their orchestra, conducted by López Cobos
By Antonio Fernández-Cid
(Review published in the newspaper ABC. Madrid, February 12, 1984)

The program chosen by maestro Jesús López Cobos for this concert took on a special appearance due to two events: the premiere of a young Spanish composer and the performance, as soloists, of five teachers from the National Orchestra itself, as well as four others at the premiere. Which is undoubtedly rare.
José Luis Turina, the current extension of a glorious surname in Spanish music, born in Madrid in 1952, is one of the most sensitive and interesting composers of his generation. The title of his work, commissioned by ONE, Pentimento, is very significant and part of the pictorial field. He points out the reappearance of old painted parts, which others cover up, but which one day emerge. Here the score, distributed in three blocks the ten minutes length, is presented uninterrupted and offers from the start the great orchestra, which gives way to a string quartet in the center, to return in the later section to the use of instrumental mass .
There is a memory of the Wagner of Parsifal, an implicit tribute to the Bayreuth musician on the centenary of his death. The writing is coherent, abundant in contrasts from the very beginning and closing pianissimi to the fullness of sound with a lot of effect, with rich use of all the blocks, including harps, celesta and extensive percussion.
Played with a spirit of normality -Corvino, Rubén Antón, Navidad and Arizcuren as a quartet-, there was also a cordial one from the public, who greeted the presence of the young author with redoubled applause.

The expressive structuralism of José Luis Turina in his new work, "Pentimento"
By Enrique Franco
(Review published in the newspaper "El País". Madrid, February 13, 1984)

As in the case of the RTVE Orchestra, the Spanish National Orchestra also included a work by a young Spanish author in its last program, directed by López Cobos. In this case, José Luis Turina (Madrid, 1952), located on the border of the Cano generation and the next generation of 1961 (that of Roig-Francolí, Encinar, Benet Casablancas, Brotons and Manuel Hidalgo). We admire in Turina's grandson a trace security and richness of his sonic imagination.
Pentimento, a work commissioned by the National Orchestra, owes its title to painting, which is not unusual when the Turina family, along with the musicians, always abounded in painters. The composer transfers to the sound world the phenomenon called "pentimento", which Henri Marceau synthesizes as "rectified parts of a painting that reappear, through transparency, on the final surface". What reappears in Turina's transposition is a piece of a string quartet.
Apart from this plastic-sound idea, what matters is the realization of it and the very personal order of Turinian structuralism, so diverse in the results from that of his teacher in Italy, Franco Donatoni. There is in that of the Spanish, continuing with the transposition of terms, an extraordinary wealth of lights, which give the sound development an incessant image in its mutations. The poetics of the timbres comes to be that constant handling of the brushstroke to give the subject the maximum role of the protagonist. In Pentimento, the timbre-color is the substantive idea and the inspiration of the composer refers to it, capable of an apparently systematic arrangement, but of real expressive effectiveness. The triumph was great and the version, clear and punctual.

Two contemporary Spaniards
By Víctor Manuel Burell
(Review published in the newspaper Cinco Días. Madrid, February 14, 1984)

It is a pleasure to have been able to enjoy, just a few hours apart, two splendid compositions by two contemporary Spanish musicians. Indeed, Radiotelevisión offered Dionisiaco, by Francisco Cano, and the ONE Pentimento, by José Luis Turina.
Both works, the first performed in a flat and inefficient manner and the second in a brilliant creation by Jesús López Cobos, gave rise to reflection on current music in our country. Francisco Cano, more sensitive than technical, reaches expression, while José Luis Turina, perhaps more technical than expressive, reaches expression.
The two compositions work superbly, because, in addition to demonstrating a profoundly solid and highly original musical architecture in both cases, they allow us to recreate the indisputable beauty of sound, that which is so forgotten in current compositions.
José Luis Turina coordinates in a kind of mirror a perfect inversion that goes from atonal to tonal, from pianissimo to pianissimo again, recreating a dynamic with a high central point and from the sum of orchestral families to the rest of them, until disappearing in the quasi-nothing of the strings. In its center, as a nucleus that appears through the texture and that gives rise to its name "pentimento", a string quartet is performed that acquires primacy until it becomes the constructive center of the impressive building.

Good role of the Spaniards in the International Tribune of Composers
By Enrique Franco
(Article published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, May 31, 1984)

[No country has come globally better than Spain in this Tribune of Composers [of Unesco], which confirms what has been repeated so many times: the level of current creation in our country and the need for better and more assiduous promotion abroad of our borders. Spain presented, through Spanish National Radio, the Second Symphony by Claudio Prieto, and Pentimento, by José Luis Turina, in performances of the National Orchestra of Spain, conducted by Jesús López Cobos.
The representatives of 33 countries, among which this year was Cuba, with Harold Gramatges, and, for the first time, Green Cape, commented on the evolution of Prieto and Evangelista, of those who already knew some of their scores, and were greatly surprised with the new Turina, so different from the one they had known in some of their first compositions. And, above all, they showed their interest in the happy moment of Spanish music, which, although naturally incorporated into Spanish currents, never ceases to show characteristic profiles: "You can guess Spain in this music", told me an orchestral conductor of Czech origin; "which, in a certain way, is more attractive than living it in its geography and in its dance, as in the times of nationalism".

Three masters from Madrid
By Carlos Gómez Amat
(Notes to the concert program of the Madrid Symphony Orchestra conducted by Cristóbal Halffter at the National Music Auditorium. Madrid, May 17, 1989)

Cristóbal Halffter, Tomás Marco and José Luis Turina are born in Madrid in 1930, 1942 and 1952. Real native of Madrid, although their origins can be traced back to the Germanic mists -as our great-grandparents used to say-, to the noble lands of Navarre or to the Sevillian light. Each one located in its moment and in its circumstance, they must be very different, not only because of the distance in time and consequently in the generation, but also because of the elements of their formation, because of their thinking and because of their concept of what one's own art is or should be. In none of the three is there the slightest trace of traditionalism, which is understood and applauded. Not chasticism, but some form of nationalism. A noble cultural and historical nationalism, evident by the motives and their treatment, in the catalog of Cristóbal and Tomás, and less so in that of José Luis. It is true that that pf the latter is shorter. Like youth, it is something that heals over time. He gives us some clue, for example, in the admirable work on the words of Valle-Inclán.
José Luis Turina amazed us in its beginnings by a natural assimilation of the technical resources that could be useful to form, from them, its language. More attentive to manner than to fashion, José Luis has always manifested himself with absolute rigor, with a certainty of hand and mind that can be related to his appearance as a young teacher. Someone has been able to say that José Luis has plenty of technique. I believe that in art technique is never superfluous. It is not something that is chained, but something that favors freedom. In this case, the technique serves to better expose ideas that are eminently musical.
Three musicians from Madrid. Three great artists. We will not fall into the easy classification among them, because their merits are public and recognized. Everyone can choose or prefer. Here we are too fond of the ranks, real or imaginary, and even more so to comparisons, perhaps not always hateful, but often inopportune. The fact is that these musicians, each one from his age and his experience, from his trade and the meaning of his work, represent themselves, but also their colleagues, veterans and those just starting out.

José Luis Turina. "Pentimento"

This work, commissioned by the National Orchestra, was premiered under the direction of Jesús López Cobos at the Royal Theatre, on February 10, 1984. A precise and explanatory note by Pablo López de Osaba was published in the play program, in which the motives and intentions of the composer are clearly evident. The Italian word "pentimento" literally means "repentance", but here it is taken in a very precise sense. López de Osaba said: "It is a term used in the world of painting and comes to mean climbing in pictorial slang; that is, parts painted on a canvas that were later corrected, covered by the painter, but with the passing time climb or emerge and become visible. Thus, this musical work comes to be a transposition of the pictorial phenomenon to the pentagram. What was below here is a fragment of a string quartet that in the second section of the work climbs more or less timidly, at times acquiring emphasis and clarity ".
The world of painting is very close, familiarly, to José Luis Turina. It is not strange that he refers to his phenomena or his procedures. Let's keep reading: "The quartet is gradually imposing itself on the orchestra in a type of writing that, if it begins by combining the atonal with the tonal, ends openly in the latter, in a great choral variation of the famous harmonic passage that culminates in the scene of the consecration of the Grail in the Wagnerian Parsifal. It may well be said that this work is a tribute of admiration to Wagner, its performance also coinciding with the centenary of the death of the musician, since it was composed in Cuenca between the months of January and March 1983 ".
The previous quartet is in no way the protagonist, but rather a starting point in thought and a nucleus that throbs in real sound. This sound does not appear abruptly at first; It arises as something natural that is born from silence, and in the same way, in the end it is lost, it fades, avoiding a definite finish. The musical plot is very complex, with repetitive moments that create a magical atmosphere, with details like that of the piccolo, which can recall a nocturnal noise of nature. Starting from nowhere, the music reaches a violent outburst that then dies down. There is a struggle, an agonism, with extremely tense episodes. Even in relaxation there is internal tension, which becomes distressing, although one cannot properly speak of expressionism. The tonal struggles to prevail, without obtaining a clear victory.
Pentimento is a firmly structured work, with a stupendous logic in its line. It is short and it gets also short, which is not a bad merit. The score is dedicated to Tomás Marco.

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