About this Recording
8.579050 - TURNER, K.: Horn Works (Complete), Vol. 1 (K. Mascher-Turner, K. Turner, F. Lloyd, Bloomer)

Kerry TURNER (b. 1960)
Complete Works for Horn, Vol. 1


Kerry Turner made his mark on the global music community mainly through his numerous compositions for horn quartet. Indeed, it is mostly due to his activities with the American Horn Quartet, who in its illustrious history performed his music at virtually every concert, that he developed a reputation as a legitimate composer. However, Turner began writing pieces for horn and piano at the same time as his famous horn quartets. His compositional maturity in both genres developed side-by-side over roughly a 30-year period, from 1987 through to 2017. The composer frequently performed these works for horn and piano along with Kristina Mascher- Turner, appearing as the Virtuoso Horn Duo. Since the majority of these pieces had not yet been properly recorded, his music for horn and piano has not enjoyed as much recognition as that of his horn quartets. This is also the case with his pieces for solo horn as well as the work for three horns (the Suite for Unaccompanied Horn and Chaconne respectively.) The two exceptions to this are ’Twas a Dark and Stormy Night and Sonata for Horn and Piano, which have been recorded before but have undergone alterations and changes since their initial release.

Turner’s compositional goal is to paint a picture, thought, or impression as clearly as possible through highly melodic musical language and then to communicate it to the listener and the performer, so that it might appear in their minds as vividly as if it were on a large movie screen.

Kerry Turner has always felt that his works are truly ‘born’ after they have been properly recorded and made available to the public. After being enthusiastically approached about the realisation of such a project by the Viennabased recording engineer, Marco Battistella, the composer and his wife, Kristina Mascher- Turner, began to put the wheels into motion. When their pianist, Lauretta Bloomer, with whom the duo has performed extensively, agreed to the project, the recording dates were set and the in-depth and detailed work on the music began. Getting the virtuoso hornist Frank Lloyd on board for the Chaconne was the final touch. The four musicians met at the Tonstudio Edlmair & Lenz in Vienna from 20 to 23 February 2019. The result of their efforts and artistry is evident in the passionate and virtuoso performances on this album. The intention of this recording is to present an intimate, immediate connection to the raw emotional power of the music.

Candles in the Darkness, Op. 86 (2016)

There is an ancient Chinese proverb which states ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’ Candles in the Darkness began its life as the third movement in Turner’s Symphony No. 1 ‘The Grail Symphony’ (2007– 09). The version on this album (2016) was composed in Vienna for Kristina Mascher-Turner on the occasion of her performance as a featured artist at the 49th International Horn Symposium in Natal, Brazil, together with pianist Lauretta Bloomer. The piece begins with a simple, unadorned, yet highly melodic theme, representing a person lighting a single candle to chase away the darkness. More candles are lit from this one central fl ame, and in turn, those candles light others until the darkness is extinguished in radiant light. The effect is one of countless candles surrounding the soloist.

Couperin Variations, Op. 71 ‘La Bandoline’ (2014)

This piece is a theme and variations based on a melody called La Bandoline by François Couperin. Couperin was born into one of the best-known musical families of Europe. The four volumes of music for harpsichord, published in Paris, contain over 230 individual pieces, which can be played on solo harpsichord or performed as small chamber works. One of the most popular of these is La Bandoline. After numerous sojourns in Paris, Kerry Turner became fascinated by this Baroque composer and desired to eventually compose a piece based on one of Couperin’s melodies which would feature the highly embellished ornamentation typical of his works. The opportunity presented itself in 2014, when Mr Andrew Pelletier commissioned Turner to write a new piece for horn and piano which would be featured at the International Horn Society Symposium in London in that same year. The Goldberg Variations of J.S. Bach have always held a special place in the composer’s heart. Using that magnifi cent opus as his inspiration, he composed this set of seven variations and fi nale. The work was composed in April and May, 2014 in New York City and Luxembourg, and has a duration of approximately nine and a half minutes.

Abide With Me, Op. 79 (2018)

In 1847, Henry F. Lyte wrote the hymn called Abide With Me. It was meant to be sung to the famous tune by William Henry Monk called Eventide. It was both the poem and the song which provided the inspiration for this work for horn and piano. The composer has often composed pieces based on episodes in his life, most obviously The Labyrinth, Op. 32 for large brass ensemble, and Quarter-After-Four, Op. 33 for violin, horn and piano. Turner describes himself as being ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’. He writes this:

‘In an ever increasingly secular world, one which mocks and is even insulting to most forms of Christianity, it has become a diffi cult task to keep one’s faith anchored and stable. The drama and turbulence of life are already geared up to destroy any sense of a belief in God, never mind a “larger more beautiful plan” which one day shall theoretically explain it all. Yet somewhere, deep within, this simple melody rings from the very bottom of my soul. Somehow, awakening each morning with the slightest hope that things will turn up, I am greeted by silence and despair. And so I hold on tight to the very last strands of any sort of “faith”. It isn’t easy being a Christian in today’s world. Perhaps it never was easy. Be that as it may, something, a barely perceptible instinct of hope rings from the depths of my soul. And so I sing “O Lord, abide with me…”.’

Abide With Me, Op. 79 was composed in Chieri, Italy in 2018. It was commissioned and premiered by Ricardo Matosinhos of Portugal.

’Twas a Dark and Stormy Night, Op. 12 (1987, rev. 2019)

’Twas a Dark and Stormy Night was composed in the winter of 1987. Turner’s inspiration came from a book of the same title. It was a compilation of short stories that were entered in a literature competition in England. The only mandatory guideline was that the story must begin with ‘’Twas a dark and stormy night …’. After that, the world was open for whatever the imagination might bring.

‘I was so excited by the idea, that I decided to basically do the same thing with an equally simple and yet ‘open’ motive. Thus the piece begins with the musical equivalent of ‘’Twas a dark and stormy night …’. The opening cadenza sets the stage, the harmonic language is introduced, and all at once, the imagination lets loose the adventure within.’

The composer chose to create the piece for horn and organ because he was at the time presenting quite a number of recitals for that duo. Obviously the search for repertoire was challenging. In composing ’Twas a Dark and Stormy Night he hoped to fill a major gap, that is, a challenging recital piece for horn and organ that shows off the best loved characteristics of each instrument, and one that is completely different from anything else that might appear on the program.

This work, one of Turner’s earliest, has undergone numerous adaptations since its original, partially incomplete version. There is a setting for two horns and piano (or cathedral organ), two horns and string orchestra and for either solo horn or two horns and wind ensemble. The recording on this album serves as the last and final version of this highly entertaining work.

Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 13 (1987, rev. 2019)

The Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 13 (1987, rev. 2019) is the earliest work on this album. It was composed in 1987, around the same time as Turner’s first horn quartet. The first movement is written in a strict neo-classical, sonata allegro form. The second movement is a passacaglia in which the theme is stated throughout the movement, yet undergoes various changes and enhancements. Like the third movement of his Quartet No. 1, the last movement of this Sonata is a toccata, marked Allegro con brio. It is highly virtuosic, demanding a well-developed technical facility from both players. The version on this album contains one alteration in the first movement—a key bridge phrase between sections, as well as a completely new horn part in the final section of the third movement, just before the coda (which has also been changed slightly). These are small but important changes that the composer has always wanted to add to this early composition.

Chaconne for Three Horns, Op. 26 (1994)

With the Chaconne for Three Horns, Turner wanted to use a compositional form that was consistent with this style of music—a passacaglia or chaconne—but at the same time consistent with his own compositional ‘sound’.

‘I have long been fascinated with the famous Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin by J.S. Bach. In the Chaconne there is a rather melancholy theme which drones on throughout the piece. Even though perhaps the theme is not actually being quoted directly, the harmonic and rhythm variations thereof keep it alive. If the listener is constantly reminded of the famous Bach Chaconne during the piece, then the composer’s goal is completed. There is a section, namely variation eight, where the Chaconne theme is quoted by the three players trilling at various times, but which is accompanied by sounds which are reminiscent of the call of the whales.’

Turner attempted to compose this piece with every possible sound and colour available on the horn. There are ten variations and a finale.

Suite for Unaccompanied Horn, Op. 85 (2017)

As a horn player, composer Kerry Turner has for decades studied and practiced the famous suites for unaccompanied cello by J.S. Bach. He has always found them to be a source of inspiration, both as musical compositions as well as studies for low horn playing. In 2008, Kerry Turner was a member of the jury at the Jeju International Brass festival. The Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 was the required piece in the horn category. This was the original concept behind this piece. Turner decided to compose a work which would be the horn player’s version of the Bach Cello Suites. Thus, there are four movements: Prelude, Allemande, Sarabande and Gigue. Each movement is true to the original metre and style of the dance it represents. There is also a direct quote from Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in the first movement. The player is encouraged to study the Bach Suites as a reference point. The music retains the typical Turner style, but the performer is requested to combine it with proper Baroque style, as well as to take plenty of freedom with certain passages. The Suite for Unaccompanied Horn was composed in Paris on 1 and 2 April 2017. It was commissioned by the Jeju International Brass Competition in South Korea.

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