My first free download for the festive season, courtesy of Orchid Classics, is one of my most-played tracks of 2010. It’s called Milo and it was written by the British composer Mark-Antony Turnage for his baby son and played by one of his close friends, cellist Guy Johnson. My review, from April, appears below.
Turnage is a terrific, organic musician whose celebrity-culture opera, Anna Nicole
, will make international headlines at Covent Garden in February 2011. He made his name with some fairly trenchant music, but his tender stuff is really worth hearing.
Here’s the link to download, exclusive to Slipped Disc readers:
Orchid Classics is a boutique label set up by the violinists Matthew Trusler and Maya Koch to record the music they and their friends believe in most passionately, regardless of whether it happens to be conventional or obviously commercial. I shall be offering more free Orchid downloads in the coming days, as well as some from an equally interesting label, to be revealed tomorrow
Mark-Anthony Turnage, 50 this year, is the most distinctive of British composers with an instantly recognisable sound. This disc is built around his music for cello and piano – a set of three lullabies and the captivating Milo, named for his baby son and so tender that you wonder whether this could possibly be the same composer who wrote the savage opera, Greek.
But Turnage, even at his most domesticated, has a wiry, terse muscularity that steers him clear of cliché and imprints his signature on the score. I don’t think I could manage to fall asleep to any of these pieces, but I do keep wanting to hear them again. The cellist is the sweet-toned Guy Johnston and he is partnered by Katharine Stott who, in one of the companion pieces – the Benjamin Britten C major sonata of 1961 – achieves an ear-pricking bell-like effect on the piano to match the cello’s pizzicato.
The remaining pieces on disc are by Britten’s teacher, Frank Bridge. Written just before and during the First World War, they are neither as penetrative as Elgar’s parallel cello reflections nor as pungent as Britten. All credit, though, to the small Orchid label that produced this thoughtful compilation, none of it obviously commercial yet, on second hearing, irresistible. Guy Johnson, it turns out, is godfather to baby Milo. Something more than music went into the making of this album.