Posted By kerryturner on February 2, 2009
Chamber music by
Kerry Turner –
‘… accessible, neatly made, technically challenging …’
Kerry Turner is a Texan by birth, a native of San Antonio, but for the last twenty years has been resident in Luxembourg where he is a member of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, a notable French horn soloist and a member of the American Horn Quartet.
As a composer he certainly knows what he is doing, and does it extremely well. His work is accessible, neatly made, technically challenging — yet like all the best competent writing it doesn’t make any severe demands on the listener, even though the players might find it a tough test. Horn playing is a tough test, and the horn quartet, so rarely appealing to composers because they don’t know how to make a success of it, is one of the toughest to make sound warm and untroubled. Turner creates the sort of music that leaves the listener comfortably unaware of technical problems, either in its making or playing.
His Quartet No 3 for horns is fifteen years old this year, and has a syncopated buoyancy (covering four octaves!) and a witty good humour that could be, for British listeners, reminiscent of two of our great knights, Walton and Malcolm Arnold at their best.
There is a short wind quintet, Berceuse for the Mary Rose, beautifully written for the medium, portraying the great ship’s battles, a homage to Henry VIII (quoting his academic but jolly song ‘Pastyme with good companye’) and the subsequent long sleep on the seabed. There is also a very effective Sonata for horn and strings, and a piece called Quarter-After-Four, a worthy short companion to the Brahms Op 40 trio for horn, violin and piano.
The final track is a superbly symphonic Rhapsody for nine instruments — commissioned by a Mr Maarten Hudig of Rotterdam for ‘the smallest possible orchestra’ — a structurally well made piece in four linked sections which are significant snapshots of the composer’s past life, people, places, a picture, a church, and a brief finale that draws all the threads together.
Turner knows how to handle instruments well, and how to maintain plausible interest in his work. I usually maintain that a composer’s music is only boring if he is. Turner can’t be!
Copyright © 4 November 2007 Patric Standford
You can order this CD directly from MSR Classics. There is a link on this website.