The work Three Sonnets was composed in 1992, obeying a multiple commission from Colgate University in New York, the now unfortunately extinct Joint US-Spanish Committee for cultural and educational cooperation, and the Cultural Cooperation Program between the Spanish Ministry of Culture and American Universities, on the occasion of the celebration of the V Centenary of the Discovery of America. Two important promoters were behind the commission, both professors at Colgate University: the violinist-violist Laura Klugherz, and the professor of Romance Languages, Robert Hathaway. This notably influenced the approaches of the piece, both musical and literary.
Violinist-Violist Laura Klugherz
Professor of Romance Languages Robert Hathaway (+2013)
The remembrance of the past that the celebration of the V Centenary meant led me to an intense search among the extensive work of the three leading figures of our "Golden Age", which in turn led to the choice of three sonnets that, despite nearly four centuries that weigh on them, result in an amazing modernity: in the first of them, Lope de Vega uses individual verses from different sonnets and authors, in a delirious mixture of four simultaneous languages: each verse is treated in the form of a differentiated section of the rest, in the musical.
Manuscript of Lope de Vega (Durán-Masaveu Codex, 1629-1631)
In the second sonnet chosen, Luis de Góngora alludes to Lope's sonnet used for the first movement, in a mockery that acquires cruel sarcastic overtones by using the so-called "broken-foot" verses, from which the last syllable of second-to-last or third-to-last setressed words that, consequently, are acute, being impossible not to "understand" the missing syllables, which produces a strange sensation between the real rhyme that we hear and the one that would have occurred if the suppression had not been made. Musically, this tries to show itself in some moments in which the expectation generated by the speech does not come to pass. In addition, for the instrumental part five other sonnets by Góngora have been used here, as the basis of a texture in which the verses have been rearranged, undoing the characteristic hyperbatos, set to music in this way, and later recomposed according to the original syntactic ordering, with the text deleted.
An edition of the 18th century of the Satirical sonnets by Góngora
The last sonnet is perhaps the most surprising sample of Quevedo's genius, in which a deep philosophical reflection on time is carried out in poetic terms, which goes through an amazing use of language that, according to José Manuel Blecua, defies the norms most severe of the grammar of all time in the line "I am a was, and a will be, and an is tired".
Primera edición del Parnaso Español de Quevedo (1648)
This third sonnet is developed on material from an immediately previous instrumental work, Túmulo de la Mariposa, also based on a poem by Quevedo, which, although it was composed in 1991, was not premiered until March 1993 at the Instituto Cervantes in Paris, by the Manón Ensemble.
Colgate Memorial Chapel at Colgate University (Hamilton, New York)
The Three Sonnets are dedicated to Laura Klugherz. Conceived for a medium-low voice, violín/viola, clarinet/bass clarinet and piano, they were premiered by said interpreter together with the pianist María Rosa Greco, the clarinetist Timothy Perry and the baritone Ramón Figueroa, on September 9, 1992, at the Colgate Memorial Chapel of the Colgate University of New York, being later interpreted in other American university centers. The premiere of the viola version of the Two Duets, originally composed in 1988 for cello and piano, took place at the same concert.
Cover and program of the concert including the premiere of Tres Sonetos and the viola version of Dos Duetos
Recording (Spanish premiere): María Luz Fernández Candocia (mezzosoprano), Laura Klugherz (violin/viola), Oriol Romaní (clarinet/bass clarinet) y María Rosa Greco (piano).
Madrid, Hall of Columns of the Circle of Fine Arts, March 13, 1994
I. De versos diferentes, tomados de Horacio, Ariosto, Petrarca, Camoes, Tasso, El Serafino, Boscán y Garcilaso II. A Lope de Vega III. Represéntase la brevedad de lo que se vive y cuán nada parece lo que se vivió
In 2012 the German musicologist Christine Faist participated in the Das Sonett und die Musik Symposium. Poetiken, Konjunkturen, Transformationen, Reflexionen, held at the University of Heidelberg, with his study Musikalische (Inter)Text- und Formreflexionen im Spannungsfeld von Tradition und Innovation: "Tres Sonetos" von José Luis Turina (*1952), published by the Universit&äauml;tsverlag Winter (Heidelberg) in 2016.
On December 18, 2013, Christine Faist gave a conference on the Tres Sonetos in the Music Classroom of the Faculty of Education of the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Ciudad Real), of which there has been a full record through the following video recording: