Mark-Anthony Turnage This Silence

0 of 5 stars

This Silence
True Life Stories
Slide Stride
Two Baudelaire Songs
Two Vocalises

Sally Matthews (soprano)

The Nash Ensemble:
Marianne Thorsen (violin)
Benjamin Nabarro (violin)
Lawrence Power (viola)
Paul Watkins (cello)
Duncan McTier (double bass)
Lucy Wakeford (harp)
Ian Brown (piano)
Philippa Davies (flute)
Gareth Hulse (oboe, cor anglais)
Michael Collins (clarinet)
Ursula Leveaux (bassoon)
Richard Watkins (horn)

Lionel Friend

Recorded between 24-26 October 2004 in Henry Wood Hall, London

Reviewed by: Rob Witts

Reviewed: March 2006
ONYX 4005
Duration: 79 minutes

Though it is his facility in writing for orchestra that has ensured Mark-Anthony Turnage’s current ubiquity, his gift is revealed with greater clarity in the steady stream of chamber works that have accompanied those for larger forces. The pieces on this disc, the third by the Nash Ensemble to focus on Turnage’s music, are more rewarding than contemporary commissions for the LPO, which have sometimes had the feel of slightly arbitrary exercises in virtuoso technique.

That technique is more productively applied in the extrovert Stride Slide, a work that melds the irrepressible piano style of Fats Waller with a chattering string quartet. As usual with Turnage, the jazz influences are deep in the music’s DNA, and the resultant style is a genuine hybrid rather than superficial exoticism. Even in his more intimate music, there is an abrasive edge to Turnage’s muse that prevents it from settling into mere rehashed romanticism. Lyrical melodic writing is cooled by jazz harmonies, calming the emotional temperature, effecting the sort of ‘cold fusion’ to be heard in This Silence, for octet and inspired by Jon Silkin’s poem “Death of a Son”. One can only admire the range of colours Turnage draws from the ensemble, which is all the more satisfying for having been achieved using limited resources instead of a cast of thousands.

The recent settings of Baudelaire, directed by Lionel Friend, cover ground already traversed by Duparc and Debussy, but here the fin de siècle decadence of the songs is slightly and pleasingly soured.

The Nash Ensemble gives exemplary performances throughout, which are well served by Chris Craker’s recording. Recommended to Turnage completists and neophytes alike.

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