Turnage: Fractured Lines; Another Set To; Silent Cities; Four-horned Fandango

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LABELS: Challenge
WORKS: Fractured Lines; Another Set To; Silent Cities; Four-horned Fandango
PERFORMER: Christian Lindberg (trombone), Evelyn Glennie, Peter Erskine (percussion); BBC SO/Leonard Slatkin
This is stunning – and strongly recommended both to enthusiasts and new-music-phobics. Although Mark-Anthony Turnage is no soft-centred populist (he can be almost as hard-edged and acerbic as Birtwistle), there is still a warm core to the nervous, brittle, sometimes garish brilliance. It emerges in extraordinarily compelling lyricism – angular, but with the gritty, sensuous immediacy of the jazz giants Turnage reveres. It’s the kind of music from which you might well come away humming – if not tunes in the familiar sense, at least snatches of insidiously memorable motif or melody – and the harmonies can be ravishing.


These four pieces are tellingly contrasted. The manic humour of Another Set To (breathtaking acrobatics from trombonist Christian Lindberg) makes an effective attention-grabber; but it also prepares the ear for the more complex emotional world of Silent Cities, a response to the strange, uneasy peace of the mass graveyards of the Somme. Four-horned Fandango may be relatively direct, but then Fractured Lines is complicated, multi-layered and finally enigmatic. It’s the kind of music that demands you go back and explore further. Performances and recordings are outstanding. Turnage’s unique sound-world – as distinctive in its way as Mahler or Messiaen – springs to life on every level. Stephen Johnson