Turnage: Two Memorials; An Invention on Solitude; Sleep On; Cortège for Chris; Tune for Toru; Two Elegies Framing a Shout; Three Farewells

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Turnage
LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: Two Memorials; An Invention on Solitude; Sleep On; Cortège for Chris; Tune for Toru; Two Elegies Framing a Shout; Three Farewells
PERFORMER: Nash Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1065
Elegies, memorials, farewells, a cortège – as you’ll have guessed, there’s a melancholic, inward-looking tone to most of the music on this disc. We’re a long way from the gritty brilliance of the orchestral Three Screaming Popes or the opera Greek. But even though the voice is rarely raised in these finely crafted chamber miniatures, Turnage’s sweet-and-sour lyricism speaks as directly and seductively as in his finest orchestral works. It’s there right from the start in Two Memorials – hard to believe that four minutes plus of unaccompanied soprano saxophone music can be so lush and beguilingly expressive. An Invention on Solitude for clarinet and string quartet is – as you’d expect – richer and more varied, but it shows the same elegantly persuasive sense of form. It isn’t hard to identify Turnage’s musical roots. From time to time he glances at Birtwistle, and more lovingly at late 20th-century jazz – and there are occasional hints of early 20th-century English Romanticism. But the manner and the superb execution are very much Turnage’s own. The performances, by members of the Nash Ensemble, are polished and full of feeling and character; they’re well recorded too – though the close, percussive piano sound in Sleep On, Two Elegies and Tune for Toru might take a little getting used to. Stephen Johnson

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