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Turnage: Mambo, Blues and Tarantella; Riffs and Refrains; Texan Tenebrae; On Opened Ground

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Customer Reviews

Great performances

Mark-Anthony Turnage was the London Philharmonic Orchestra's composer in residence for five years, and this is the third volume of his works written for the ensemble. The recordings are all taken from live performances, which gives them an added sense of freshness and energy.

"On Opened Ground" is kind of a disjointed jazz-flavored concerto for viola. The music moves in fits and starts with the viola (Lawrence Power, soloist) popping in and out in surprising ways, while still providing most of the melodic content. Sometimes it seems like the soloist and orchestra are playing two different pieces, then there's a sudden shift, and it turns out all to be part of Turnage's plan.

By contrast, "Texan Tenebrae" is an emotionally wrought little gem. It grew from Turnage's opera "Anna Nicole," and is a work contemplating the death of the Texas Playmate-turned-trophy wife. Turnage effectively uses dissonance to both ratchet up the emotion and suggest that, despite the placid nature of the music, all is not right

The clarinet concerto "Riffs and Refrains" would make a great companion piece to Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs." Both works take the sound of the jazz clarinet, and jazz motifs and recast them as building blocks from contemporary classical works. In Turnage's case, the piece is prone to sudden bursts of energy, followed by slow sections that seem to be holding the motion of the music back (but only for a little while). Michael Collins effortlessly switches back and forth from classical to jazz playing, making this an effective work that brings together both worlds.

Christian Tetzlaff fearlessly performs the violin concerto "Mambo, Blues and Tarantelly." The opening section sounds like an angular version of the mambo from West Side Story, and the other parts equally traditional and aggressively modern.That's not to say it's not original music -- it is. Tetzlaff is completely invested in this complex music and turns in a highly focused performance.

If you're already purchased the first two volumes in this series, then you need only know the quality hasn't wavered. If you're looking for an introduction to Turnage, this disc can provide a nice overview of his orchestral writing.

Biography

Formed: October 7, 1932 in London, England

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the central institutions of the busy London concert scene, has long been recognized as one of the world's great ensembles, an assertion borne out by continued acclaim from audiences and critics alike. When the venerable Royal Philharmonic Society faced a financial crisis in the late 1920s, Sir Thomas Beecham proposed a plan to form a permanent orchestra for the first time in the Society's 115-year history. It was proposed that the ensemble, to be called...
Full Bio