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Turnage: Concerto for Two Violins & Orchestra (Shadow Walker); Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

Vadim Repin, Daniel Hope; Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra/Sascha Goetzel (Onyx)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Berlioz • Turnage
Turnage: Concerto for Two Violins & Orchestra (Shadow Walker); Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Vadim Repin, Daniel Hope (violin); Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra/Sascha Goetzel
Onyx ONYX4188 79:23 mins


Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new double concerto Shadow Walker was premiered by this immensely popular Istanbul orchestra, and features some Turkish percussion instruments – though not, as far as I can tell, in any especially Turkish idiom. This isn’t the jazzy, satirical Turnage of From the Wreckage or Anna Nicole, but dark, edgy, with nervy, shifting rhythms and restive sonorities, inspired by a dance video in which a shadow, detached from its creator, walks through the streets on its own. As this suggests, the prevailing atmosphere is distinctly MR James: eerie, sometimes lyrical but with menacing flashes, punctuated by the dialogue of the solo violins – shadow and self?

In this live concert Vadim Repin and Daniel Hope are, not surprisingly, ideally fluent, and the excellent Turkish players recreate Turnage’s enigmatic soundworld with aplomb. This is an uncompromising score, but it’s a compelling concept that repays concentrated listening. Putting it alongside Berlioz at his most romantically rumbustious might seem a little unfair, but in fact the pairing underlines some unexpected similarities – supernatural visions, rhythmic interplay, ambiguities of personality and identity. Here again the orchestra and Viennese conductor Sacha Goetzel leap to the occasion with characteristic vitality and freshness that’s exactly right for this youthful storm of passions. There are so many Symphonie fantastique recordings that it’d be invidious to select any single best, but this is certainly among the most vivid modern-instrument versions, although Robin Ticciati offers greater finesse (on Linn), Davis (on Philips or LSO Live) and Rattle (on Warner) expansiveness and scale.


Mike Scott Rohan