Mark-Anthony Turnage: interview

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Mark-Anthony Turnage on his latest work, ‘Mambo, Blues and Tarantella’

  • Mark-Anthony Turnage: interview

    Mark-Anthony Turnage © Hanya Chlala/ArenaPAL

  • You must be very busy at the moment.

    ‘Yes. My wife’s eight months pregnant, so I’m trying to get a load of work done before the baby arrives.’

    Might you have to dash away during ‘Mambo, Blues and Tarantella’?

    ‘That is a real problem, because the due date is the day after.’

    Describe your new violin concerto.

    ‘It’s in three movements. At one point I was going to put the “Tarantella” movement first, so it would have been “Tarentella, Blues and Mambo”, which actually doesn’t work as well as a title… The percussion is quite Latin, which I have never really done before.’

    Why write such a piece for violin, and not clarinet or saxophone?

    ‘I have already written for those instruments to death.’

    Why did you choose Christian Tetzlaff

    ?‘I saw him play Shostakovich One at the Proms a few years ago and I was really knocked out by it. I also love the way he plays Bach… Bach is fundamental to my whole musical thought.’

    But Tetzlaff has never played jazz…

    ‘I don’t want him to swing; it’s more about the notes… There is no improvisation in it anyway, I just want him to play what I’ve written.’

    Can the London Phil swing?

    ‘Yeah, more than a lot of orchestras.’

    What else are you working on?

    ‘I am writing an opera for Covent Garden about Anna Nicole Smith.’

    Will people be surprised that your name is attached to the late stripper and Playboy model?

    ‘Some people who know me well will not be surprised at all… My parents aren’t allowed to go – they have already been warned off, and I think anyone slightly squeamish will not be able to go in terms of content. It makes “Greek” [his swear-fest opera] look like something you could put in front of Sunday-school kids.’Read what Christian Tetzlaff said to Time Out about working on ‘Mambo, Blues and Tarantella’.

    ‘Mambo, Blues and Tarantella’ is at the Royal Festival Hall, Sept 24.

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