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Joaquin Turina : La Oracion del Torero Op34 arranged by Raymond Burley for four guitars: DOz

Joaquin Turina arranged for four guitars by Raymond Burley

Les Productions D’Oz: Score and Separate parts (12, 4, 4, 4, and 4 pages respectively)

This piece (translated as The Bullfighter’s Prayer) was requested of the composer in 1925 by the Aguilar Quartet, players of the ‘Laud’ or the Spanish Lute. After that it was subsequently arranged for string quartet and then a string orchestra by Turina. Here we have a version by Raymond Burley for four guitars

The piece is in one movement but with a few different sections, and lasts for approximately eight minutes in total, and so is quite a substantial piece for any quartet. The opening is a 6/8 Allegro Moderato and begins with a rising quaver melody on guitar one, harmonised by guitars 2 and 3, with a pair of bass notes on guitar 4 tuned to a 6th string on D. The main thing you notice is how well the guitars are written to harmonize with each other so that in effect triads are being played .There is a considerable amount of repeated notes in the parts here and everything is moving quite fast, so that players have to be reasonably good throughout. There is a sudden Andante which however only lasts four bars before an accel. molto takes the players back to the opening speed for ten bars before returning to the Andante, this time for a much longer section. Nearly all this music, incidentally, is single notes throughout. Another accelerando takes us to a new 2/4 Allegretto Mosso idea where off beat accents is paramount, whilst guitar 4 plays a swiftly moving run of semi – quavers. Then a 3 / 4 Lento takes over and everything is marked espressivo, reaching a considerable climax, before dying away to a pianissimo. The Allegro Moderato then comes back with the repeated notes and the swiftly moving semi – quavers in all four parts, eventually playing in octaves that go right up to the top Bb in guitar one, before turning yet again into the Allegretto Mosso for a short return of that theme, before finally moving to Andante, and the final Lento where the piece closes on a moving pianissimo on all four instruments, all playing harmonics.

This is a lovely piece, very Spanish (as you might expect) and definitely a very involving piece of music from the man who only wrote a few pieces for Segovia. Therefore it is interesting to think that he wrote this for a quartet of plucked string instruments and that this arrangement gives you a considerable idea how it must have sounded on lutes. This is a piece that is definitely well worth getting your fingers round if you have a quartet of decent players.

Chris Dumigan

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