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Concerto for trumpet and orchestra 'From the Wreckage'

'Turnage: Speranza & From the Wreckage' (LSO0744)
Turnage: Speranza & From the Wreckage
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Concerto for trumpet and orchestra 'From the Wreckage'
In some ways Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Trumpet Concerto follows a trajectory similar to many works in the orchestral repertoire. The journey, via a process of inner struggle, from a state of darkness into one of light is, after all, one of the great emotional archetypes of musical form. But unlike, say, the great Fifth Symphonies of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Nielsen, Turnage’s compact piece does not share the heroic statements of these earlier works. Its psychology relates to a much more modern frame of mind, one in which the crisis is less overcome than simply worked through, resulting in a state of mind in which the agony becomes tolerable.

The work is composed in a single movement, but a three-part division is perceptible in the changing atmosphere, itself further articulated by the soloist’s moving from the dark-toned flugelhorn to the standard trumpet and eventually, for the third part, to the piccolo trumpet. The opening suggests horror rather than tragedy. Subtle but uncanny screeches in the strings and unsettling flares from the percussion provide a background to the nervous, centre-less meandering of the soloist. The subsequent, jazz-inflected syncopations introduced during the first tutti, and the misty flow of the ensuing solo entry, seem initially to afford few comforts, but the sense of the trumpet exploring half-familiar territory eventually dispels the sense of underlying panic. True to form, there is no Beethovenian conquering-over-adversity at the end. Rather, the opening’s uncertainties are simply rendered less threatening and the piece seems less to end than simply to exhale, winding out on a shimmering chord and a last shake of the snare.

Originally written for this performance’s soloist, the Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, From the Wreckage is remarkable for the way it captures such a wide spectrum of colour and expression from its solo instrument. Turnage’s affinity with the instrument stems partly from the pieces—such as Night Dances (1981) and the double trumpet concerto Dispelling the Fears (1994)—in which his love of jazz first penetrated and revolutionised his musical style. The piece also eschews the traditional concerto idea of making adversaries of soloist and orchestra, the latter acting more in the manner of an ancient Greek chorus by setting and colouring the scene and responding to the plight of the troubled protagonist.

from notes by Guy Dammann © 2012

Track-specific metadata
Details for LSO0744 track 1
Recording date
7 February 2013
Recording venue
Barbican, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Nicholas Parker
Recording engineer
Neil Hutchinson
Hyperion usage
  1. Turnage: Speranza & From the Wreckage (LSO0744)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: November 2013
    Download only
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