KERRY TURNER: Karankawa (tone poem); Introduction and Main Event (Solo Horn Quartet & Orchestra); Concerto for Tube and Orchestra; Concerto for Low Horn and Chamber Orchestra – American Horn Quartet/Kyle Turner, tuba/ Charles Putnam, Fr. horn/Sinfonia Inventus/Dariusz Wisniewski – Albany multichannel SACD TROY1141, 59:47 ****:
Kerry Turner is a fortunate American composer to get this excellent hi-res surround disc with top-rate performances of his music. He composed all four works during the mid-1990s, but his composing life spans 25 years. Most of his works have Native American subjects and themes, make use of fugues and sonata-allegro form, and lean heavily on the horn. Chamber music has been Turner’s forte. These four works are strongly melodious and highly individual, with some surprising and often haunting passages in them.
Karankawa is the only programmatic work of the four. It was the name of a Native American tribe which lived along the Gulf of Mexico, in what is now Southern Texas, in 1685. A French explorer shipwrecked there and unknowingly set up a fort in the middle of Karankawa territory. The Karankawa were a fierce tribe, reputed to practice cannabalism. They eventually surrounded the fort and massacred everyone except for some children which they took into the tribe.The fort’s location has never been found.
The Introduction for horn quartet and orchestra is only three minutes long, with the Main Event about 14. This is a delightful work, with the unusual concertino of the four horns balanced against the ripieno of the full orchestra for a rich brass sound. The tube and French horn concertos are equally listenable. The first is in three movements and stands up well against Vaughan Williams’ concerto for the same aggregation, and the latter is in four movements. Both soloists are virtuosi on their instruments. The tubaist is the composer’s brother.
– John Sunier