MUSIC / Leaving - CBSO, Birmingham

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The Independent Culture
Mark-Anthony Turnage's CBSO commission, Leaving, premiered earlier this year stood up very well on its second outing. As repetition strips away layers of expectation, more virtues and a few faults rise to the surface. Problems still remain with some slightly four- square choral word-setting, but the work's relationship with tradition seems, if anything, healthier. Leaving opens up the corridors of English 20th-century music, with Tippett, in Ice-break mode, echoing the most strongly. Elsewhere, the energy and imagination with which Turnage has consistently informed his CBSO commissions was well to the fore: there is a generosity and breadth apparent in these varied settings which encourages choirs, smiles on soloists (Andrew King and Helen Walker remain excellent in the roles they created) and warmly welcomes in the audience.

The contrast between the first and second halves of the concert could hardly have been more complete. The choir, excellently focused in Leaving, produced an uncharacteristically fuzzy, even strained tone in Brahms's Requiem. Things improved greatly after this, not least with the arrival of the magnificent solo singing of Andreas Schmidt.