Mark-Anthony Turnage: Winter's Edge


Even at its biggest and boldest, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s music has always contained a thread of dark lyricism. Intimacy and tenderness of expression are never absent for long in Turnage’s music, and are essential to his large output of works for chamber ensemble – his mature string quartets in particular.

The two works presented so compellingly here by the Piatti Quartet, whose deep familiarity with Turnage’s music is informed by regular collaboration with the composer since 2015, are products of the composer’s late fifties. Drawing on the ability of the quartet genre to absorb and reimagine both elevated and vernacular musical idioms, they are deeply personal statements – at times shockingly so in their intensity and insights into a world of private emotions.

Since Turnage's first quartet (2008), he has turned away from the blues-rock of its framing towards his equally beloved Beethoven, whose dramatic presence can be sensed alongside Bartók, Shostakovich and more in Shroud (his third quartet) and Winter’s Edge (fourth), performed here with passionate dexterity by the Piatti Quartet.However, popular references are not altogether discarded – and it is unmistakably Turnage that grieves, rages, dances and tenderly salutes through these substantial and impressively crafted works ... It was a period of immense loss for the composer who, following the death of friends remembered in his second quartet, Contusion (2014), memorialises two further in Shroud.

Through five movements –interweaving ‘Threnody’, ‘March’ and ‘Lament’ with two, brittle scherzo Intermezzos – the emotional trajectory is clear and viscerally direct. In the capable hands of the Piatti, it’s suffused with energy and purpose: from keening unisons to nervy pizzicatos; thick, splintering counterpoint and aggressive down-bows that feel like repeated blows to the body.

Winter’s Edge has its own sense of ambivalence. Dedicated to his mother at 80, Turnage and his sensitive players imbue its four, untitled movements with a reflective lyricism that embraces subtle waltzes and loping, bluesy gestures. Alongside impassioned outbursts and wispy tunes, the resonant chords and chorales suggest melancholy without ever succumbing to whimsy'

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Release Date: 31 March 2023
Catalogue No: DCD34254
Total playing time: 52:31

Recorded on 22-23 February 2022 at Holy Trinity Church, Weston Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: Jack Davis
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: John Christ
Booklet editor: John Fallas
Cover photograph: Andrew Sterling / Unsplash Session photography: foxbrushfilms.com Delphian Records Ltd – Edinburgh – UK www.delphianrecords.com

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Piatti Quartet perform an exhilarating section of Turnage's Shroud during recording sessions in Cambridgeshire...

Album Booklet

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