The piano has never been an instrument that has convinced me as a vehicle for contemporary musical expression: its physical principle, almost born at the service -scientifically thought, we can say- of a very specific literature, based on the harmonic principles generated by resonance, makes it unsuitable, in my opinion, for music more concerned with other aspects of the sound. This has not been an obstacle for the 20th century to see the birth of masterpieces for this instrument, and in fact in my music it appears with notable frequency, although it is almost always integrated within diverse chamber music groups, together with the voice or perhaps less perfected instruments, but that seem to me to have greater expressive possibilities. A few isolated works, of little scope, accounted for my modest piano production, constituting in that sense this Sonata a separate chapter in terms of the ambition of my intentions.
Throughout its almost twenty minutes length, in the Sonata (as in any of my works) apparently opposite worlds come together, but deep down they are complementary: together with a non-traditional harmonic vocabulary -except for the isolated presence, in the form of rapid bursts, of some hardly apprehensible conventional chords-, to its own service, to melodic turns, sometimes lyrical, sometimes dramatic, and others indefinable, or to purely rhythmic sections, an important role is played by both a defined structure of sonata (structure, and not form: because it is obviously far from the classic tonal postulates that gave rise to it), in which the ideas are exposed, developed and, finally, re-exposed following the order of events consecrated by use, all elaborated through a virtuosic treatment of writing, which makes the work a true sonata in almost every sense, including the figurative one of the difficulty that must accompany any work woth of that name.
This Sonata was composed in Madrid during the months of October and November 1991, at the request of pianist Guillermo González, to whom it is dedicated, not so much as the responsible of its gestation and premiere (Madrid, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, December 3, 1994, within a cycle of concerts dedicated to the figure of José Cubiles on the first centenary of his birth), but as a fitting tribute to a great performer whose exemplary interest in contemporary Spanish creation goes as far as to find short the far from scarce existing repertoire.
Cover of the book-program of the concert series dedicated to José Cubiles
Program of the premiere of the Sonata for piano
In October 2015, the pianist Julio García Vico presented the first video of his Project for the diffusion of contemporary Spanish music, consisting of an impressive interpretation of the Sonata illustrated with abundant analytical examples, which can be seen at the bottom of this page.
In 1998, pianist Chiun-Fan Chang, who was a student of mine at the Madrid Conservatory, dedicated her Doctoral Thesis at the Cincinatti University to an exhaustive analysis of Scherzo and the Sonata for piano, under the title The fusion of the traditional and the contemporary: The survival of traditional form within a modern musical language in the piano music of José Luis Turina..