Saturday January 20, 2018 8:21 pm

First Lady of Percussion


Evelyn Glennie in concert…

FRACTURED LINES – Double Percussion Concerto

on a tune by Peter Erskine and other works by Mark-Anthony Turnage with Leonard Slatkin conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra

TURNAGE is the contemporary British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. One of Britain’s most acclaimed living composers, he writes for both the concert hall and the opera house. His works, straddling classical music and jazz, are his creative response to life and art and the world around him. His orchestral compositions often involve soloists (he makes music “for people”), as in the work highlighted here in celebration of percussionist Evelyn Glennie’s selection as Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year.”

FRACTURED LINES premiered at the BBC Proms* in 2000 but has since been revised by the composer to its present, perhaps final form – lighter, more jazzy and more tuneful. It is a concerto for double percussion – opening with the threatening thunder of a solitary drum, rolling as it slowly summons the orchestra amidst a resonance of metal and other percussion instruments toward the articulation of a unifying eight-bar motif based on jazz virtuoso Peter Erskine’s tune.

The motif repeats in various forms, broken up a la “fractured lines” through the lento and agitato moments of the piece and as it does, Glennie’s marimba gains dominance alongside Erskine’s drums. Glennie, who can work magic with drums as well, shares instruments with Erskine in parts of the orchestration. But in this piece, Glennie deftly demonstrates that the marimba, that most melodic of “beaten” instruments, can indeed hold its own as a solo concert instrument, a fascinating source of rich and wide-ranging resonances.

The prized features of this showpiece are the cadenzas Turnage composed for Glennie’s (pitched) marimba and Erskine’s (unpitched) drums – with improvisation allowed, as if underscoring the soloists’ very different musical backgrounds (Glennie’s classical and Erskine’s jazz). The cadenzas demarcate the work into three informal sections and while the subtle tension apparent throughout the piece between the solo instruments could in lesser hands very well have broken down into a nasty case of “fractured lines,” it does not. In this as in all of Turnage’s works, often darkly dissonant, classical music and the elements of jazz in the end converge in a spirit of friendly harmony.
© GJCajipe / FanFaire 2000

“Fractured Lines” was a FanFaire CD Giveaway.

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