Turnage on form

I read an interesting comment on musical form from composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, whose work Scherzoid was recently premiered by the New York Philharmonic, which commissioned the piece. Another example of the rethinking of classical forms.

“The piece developed into something exploring changes of personality. I realised it would be too much to have one giant 17 minute scherzo, and broke things up into three scherzos divided by two trios. The scherzos have the same mood but the music is different, while the trios offer some contrast with more slow and sustained writing, particularly the second trio which introduces melodic ideas that are much more lyrical. Yet even here there is an element of schizophrenia, because the harmony relates to that of the scherzo, here being sustained rather than punched out.

“There is very little literal repetition in my music – rather I try and achieve the Stravinskian thing where everything is being constantly varied. Formally this can mean that returning music can be cut up and reordered like in a film, something Eisenstein described as ‘intellectual montage.’“

The NY Times review of the piece is here.