Mark-Anthony Turnage (born 1960)
Introducing this piano quintet, which he wrote for the Nash Ensemble in 2002, Turnage explained: “I don’t like virtuosity for the sake of it, but after writing True Life Stories [for Leif Ove Andsnes] I realised that players like a challenge, so I thought I’d set myself a technical exercise and write a piece that’s technically hard to play as opposed to musically hard to grasp.” The result is music about as far as possible from the Romantic splendours with which the genre is associated, the technical difficulties being largely those of conflicting edgy rhythms going mostly at a fair lick throughout the twelve minutes or so the piece takes to get around. ‘Stride’ here is, of course, the piano style introduced by James P. Johnson in Harlem around 1920 to liven up what was by then an aging ragtime tradition. Turnage’s piano brings this style with it when it first enters. In the short while before that, the strings have already been showing some neat rhythmic misbehaviour, but from the piano they learn more, and also get to sing the blues. Together the instruments charge from one idea to another, almost everything dynamic, unstable, and ready to change into something else.
'Slide Stride' is published by Schott Music. This work was filmed and uploaded to Psappha's YouTube Channel with the kind permission of Schott Music. More information is here: https://en.schott-music.com/shop/slide-stride-no175289.html
About the composer: Mark-Anthony Turnage
A composer of truly international stature, Mark-Anthony Turnage is among the most relevant communicators and creators of today. His orchestral and operatic music is often forthright and confrontational, unafraid to mirror the realities of modern life, yet its energy is exhilarating. With his flair for vivid titles and his complete absorption of jazz elements into a contemporary classical style, Turnage produces work with a strong appeal.
Turnage studied with Oliver Knussen and John Lambert, and later with Gunther Schuller. With the encouragement of Hans Werner Henze, he wrote his first opera, Greek, for the 1988 Munich Biennale. The many ensuing productions worldwide established his international reputation. Turnage's major work in the late Nineties was his second full-length opera, The Silver Tassie, premiered in 2000 at English National Opera. In the same year Turnage was appointed as the BBC Symphony Orchestra's first Associate Composer culminating in a major Turnage weekend at the Barbican in 2003.
Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic commissioned Ceres, an 'orchestral asteroid' to accompany Holst’s suite The Planets, in 2006. Other significant works following the turn of the century include Bass Inventions, premiered by the bass player Dave Holland in 2001, and Scorched, co-written with John Scofield for jazz trio and orchestra, in 2002.
Turnage was Composer in Residence at the London Philharmonic between 2005 and 2010. 2009 brought the premiere of A Constant Obsession, commissioned by the Wigmore Hall for the Nash Ensemble and Mark Padmore. Hammered Out at the 2010 BBC Proms and Twisted Blues with Twisted Ballad were works completed before Turnage took time out to write a third opera, Anna Nicole, which premiered at The Royal Opera House in 2011.
Much of Turnage's music is recorded on Decca, Chandos, EMI, Black Box and the LPO label. Scorched, on Deutsche Grammophon, was nominated for a Grammy, while Etudes and Elegies was recorded for the Warner label. Turnage is Research Fellow in Composition at the Royal College of Music, and is published by Boosey & Hawkes. Works written before 2003 are published by Schott. He was awarded a CBE in the 2015 Queen's Birthday honours.
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes