MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE (b.1960): Twice Through the Heart for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra (Sarah Connolly), The Torn Fields for Baritone and Large Ensemble (Gerald Finley), Hidden Love Song for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra (Martin Robertson).
Catalogue Number: 03J098
Description: Turnage has displayed a penchant for choosing extramusical themes for his works that virtually guarantee a certain visceral response from the listener, and adapting them to musical utterance that ensures that this will be so. No exception in the two main works here; the murder of an abusive spouse and war - specifically World War I - provide the raw material here. Twice sets verse by Jackie Kay, based on the account of a woman who had stabbed her emotionally and physically abusive husband. Although the subject is harrowing and the piece does not shy away from depicting the woman's tormented state of mind, there is an absence of histrionic violence in the work; rather a tense, brooding sense of melancholy. Combining this with the solo line's swooping lyricism, the overall impression is of a surprisingly introspective, even tender and sympathetic examination of the drama. The Torn Fields opens with enigmatic, Brittenesque fanfares. Setting five World War I poems highlighting the waste and uselessness of war, this is a dark-textured work of savage irony but again, largely restrained in terms of violent expression, alternating restless agitation and hopeless resignation. Turnage's idiom is profoundly tonal; the vocal writing superbly expressive. One is reminded frequently not only of Britten, but also Tippett, and at times, Shosta-kovich. Love Song is a gentle rhapsody, tinged with melancholy, etched in clear, translucent textures. Texts included. London Philharmonic Orchestra; Marin Alsop.