String Quartet in d minor, Op.4
Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) was born in the Spanish city of Seville. At the age of four he was given as a gift an accordion and surprised everyone with the speed and facility he learned to play. In 1894 he began his formal studies of harmony theory and counterpoint. Almost immediately he began to compose small pieces. In 1905 he, as most other Spanish composers of the time, went to Paris where he studied piano with Moszkowsky and composition under Vincent d'Indy in the Schola Cantorum. He became good friends with Isaac Albeniz and Manuel de Falla. It was Albeniz who encouraged to find inspiration in the popular music of Spain and Andalusía. After finishing his studies, Turina moved to Madrid where he spent the rest of his life composing and teaching.
Turina's first works were entirely influenced by the French impressionist school. After hearing them, Albeniz told him, "You must base your art in popular Spanish or Andalusian song, given that you are from Seville." His string quartet, which dates from 1910, was dedicated to Albeniz whose advice he took to heart. It was the beginning of Turina's new way of looking at music. The opening movement, Prelude, has given the Quartet its nickname "De la guitarra". The work begins three upper voices striking loud chords which are followed by the cello's pizzicato passages which evoke the sound of the guitar. The main theme is then given out by the cello. It is a lazy loping syncopated Spanish melody. A highly evocative atmosphere is created as gradually the tempo picks up and the mood becomes brighter. The first theme of the second movement, Allegro moderato, clearly shows the influence of Turina's teacher, d'Indy. The second theme is vaguely Spanish. The third movement, Zorezico, Assez vif, begins with a slow diffident section which suddenly gives way to the turbulent and very Spanish dance, the Zorezico (where our sound-bite begins). The fourth movement, Andante quasi lento, is quiet and reflective but there are also moments of intensity. The upbeat finale, Allegro moderato, is a fusion of Spanish rhythm and melody with the expression of the French impressionist school.
Hailed as a masterpiece by critics on its premiere in Paris, here is a work which belongs in the repertoire of professional groups but which can also be enjoyed by amateurs. Often out of print or horribly expensive, we are pleased to make this fine work available at a reason price in hopes that it will find a home on music stands.