ALBUM TITLE: Turnage: From the Wreckage
WORKS: Works by Mark Anthony Turnage
PERFORMER: Hakan Hardenberger (trumpet); London Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: LSO 0744
Mark-Anthony Turnage has the courage to explore dark and painful emotions through his music, and to portray them with razor-edged intensity, with no searching for false consolation. But however modern his sound palette, he also has the courage to defy New Music orthodoxy and look to jazz improvisation, and even Romantic symphonic thinking, for a style that engages in direct, visceral terms. The sound world of Speranza (‘Hope’) is as contemporary as a virtual cityscape. Yet the four movements are also based on sharply memorable motifs, which develop in ways that not only satisfy intellectually, but at best form an emotional narrative as gripping as Shostakovich. Acerbic, even rebarbative harmonies suddenly give way to melting tonal progressions, supporting lyricism that touches as tenderly as it made the ear recoil only moments earlier.
Speranza is the stand-out work here for me. Though the trumpet concerto From the Wreckage is certainly an arresting listen, it is ultimately a display piece. In Speranza, with its tangible message of enduring hope, we truly find heart as well as brilliance. You’d never guess from this recording that this was the work’s premiere: Daniel Harding and the LSO seem to have found so much in it in rehearsal. The live recordings are very good, and even the Barbican dryness works in favour of Turnage’s masterly clean textures.