TURNAGE Orchestral Works Vol 3

Third volume in the LPO’s live Turnage series

Author: 
Richard_Whitehouse

Turnage_Orchestral Works Vol. 3

  • On Opened Ground: concerto for viola and orchestra
  • Texan Tenebrae
  • Lullaby for Hans, for string orchestra
  • Riffs and Refrains: concerto for clarinet and orchestra
  • Mambo, Blues and Tarantella: concerto for violin and orchestra

The LPO label’s third disc of Mark-Anthony Turnage (the orchestra’s Composer in Residence from 2005 to 2010) may have arrived some while after its predecessors (11/05, 4/08) but it was worth the wait. Dominating the sequence are three concertos which in themselves offer a decent overview of the composer’s evolution over this past decade. Not least because of its solo instrument’s jazz connotations, Riffs and Refrains (2003) is most redolent of his earlier music, its two movements complementing each other as they move from brusquely syncopated ‘breaks’ to undulating bluesy paragraphs. Nominally similar in its trajectory, On Opened Ground (2001) is a tougher proposition, its first movement opening with a cadenza whose rhetoric informs the tensile Scherzino that follows, with its successor exuding a fraught melodic intensity that spills over into a Chaconne whose charged culmination resolves into a brooding recollection of earlier material. Formally and expressively a breakthrough for Turnage, its achievement was consolidated in Mambo, Blues and Tarantella (2007). While this might seem to conform more overtly to the classical archetype, the initial melodic motifs form an overarching continuity such as brings these three highly contrasted movements into a sustained and impressively cumulative accord.

The performances – by Michael Collins, Lawrence Power and Christian Tetzlaff respectively – are all unfailingly attuned to this often visceral music, which also applies to the conducting of Marin Alsop, Marcus Stenz and Vladimir Jurowski. Completing the programme are two shorter orchestral pieces: the ominous interplay of strings and wind in Texan Tenebrae (2009) constitutes an oblique paraphrase on music from the opera Anna Nicole, while Lullaby for Hans (2006) is a study in rapt string textures that now seems the more affecting in view of Henze’s recent death. The recording has warmth and spaciousness, not to be taken for granted from the Royal Festival Hall acoustic, while Anthony Burton’s notes are a ready aid to listening. All in all, as fine a selection of Turnage’s recent music as could be wished and that also makes one more keenly anticipate the major project Speranza, to be premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra on February 7.

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