Daniel Harding / Håkan Hardenberger / London Symphony Orchestra

Mark-Anthony Turnage: Speranza; From the Wreckage

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These live recordings of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Speranza (a world premiere) and From the Wreckage are bracing experiences that speak to the tragedies and terrors of life and the hope that persists in the face of adversity. Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra recorded these pieces in concert in February 2013, and the impact on the audience must have been tremendous, if this SACD gives an accurate impression. Both are tours de force in the sense that they show off the orchestra's colors and textures with brilliance, and in the case of From the Wreckage, the trumpet is presented in a quasi-concerto format, with an intensely difficult part for Håkan Hardenberger. Indeed, any piece by Turnage shows his own virtuosity in writing for orchestra, which the London Symphony Orchestra has demonstrated on many occasions. Yet beyond his skills, Turnage's expressions in these works are raw, fiercely defiant, plangently mournful, and ultimately cathartic, for the music has less to do with technical matters than with conveying emotion. To the extent that Speranza resembles an elegiac symphony or instrumental requiem, it is profoundly affecting, perhaps even more than its ferocious companion piece. Yet From the Wreckage poses the agonized questions Speranza seemingly answers, so they are an excellent match for this program. LSO Live's recording is incredibly vivid and close-up, so at times the listener feels completely immersed in the sound.

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