Fazil Say

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

1001 Nights in the Harem; Grand Bazaar; China Rhap­sody

Iskan­dar Wid­jaja (vi­o­lin), Iraz

Yildiz (pi­ano); ORF Vi­enna Radio Sym­phony/howard Grif­fiths

Sony 1907586573­2 60:24 mins Pi­anist-com­poser Fazil Say cre­ates epic sound­scapes that com­bine tra­di­tional or­ches­tra­tion with in­stru­ments from his na­tive Tur­key, in­clud­ing kudüm and dar­buka drums and the ney reed flute. Say also em­ploys un­usual tech­niques to make West­ern in­stru­ments evoke Mid­dle East­ern ones. In the vi­o­lin con­certo 1001 Nights in the Harem (2007), writ­ten for Pa­tri­cia Kopatchin­skaja and per­formed here by Iskan­dar Wid­jaja, pizzi­cato ef­fects turn the in­stru­ment into an oud. The work is not the first to be in­spired by the Ara­bian Nights tales, of course: Rim­skyko­r­sakov based his sym­phonic suite Scheheraza­de on the pop­u­lar story; Say’s ver­sion fo­cuses par­tic­u­larly on the women within a harem. Wid­jaja im­presses through­out, par­tic­u­larly in the ca­den­zas that link the first three move­ments.

Grand Bazaar (2015/16) con­jures the vi­brancy of the mar­ket, its highly rhyth­mic char­ac­ter neatly ex­e­cuted by the ORF Vi­enna

Radio Sym­phony Or­ches­tra un­der ★oward Grif­fiths. This and the fol­low­ing China Rhap­sody for pi­ano and or­ches­tra (2016) are pre­miere record­ings; both works in­cor­po­rate jazz-in­flu­enced el­e­ments in a man­ner rem­i­nis­cent of Gersh­win’s Rhap­sody in Blue. If, at times, the mu­sic threat­ens to be­come pas­tiche, it re­mains en­joy­able none­the­less.

There is some pre­pared pi­ano in China Rhap­sody (build­ing on ideas heard in Say’s ear­lier work Black Earth, from 1997), which pi­anist

Iraz Yildiz tack­les with aplomb. It is these ad­di­tional tim­bres, along with the cross-genre style of writ­ing that give the mu­sic its dis­tinc­tive colour­ing (think Bern­stein, John Adams and, in a way, Karl Jenk­ins). Claire Jack­son




La Strav­a­ganza, Op. 4

An­ton Mar­tynov (vi­o­lin); Modo An­tiquo/fed­erico Maria Sardelli Dy­namic CDS 7778 96:68 mins (2 discs) A painter, en­graver, nov­el­ist, satirist as well as a lead­ing Vi­valdi schol­arper­former, Fed­erico Maria Sardelli brings the full breadth of his cre­ative spirit to these ex­hil­a­rat­ing ac­counts. With the Ital­ian pe­riod-in­stru­ment en­sem­ble he founded in 1987, he per­forms Vi­valdi’s 12 con­cer­tos of Op. 4: La Strav­a­ganza – aptly named given their ex­trav­a­gant vir­tu­os­ity.

Solo vi­olin­ist An­ton Mar­tynov has a fear­some tech­nique which he com­bines with a sen­si­tiv­ity to Baroque style, mak­ing light of Vi­valdi’s flash­ing scales, fil­i­gree em­bel­lish­ments, fid­dly dou­ble stop­pings and leaps. Among the disc’s high­lights are the brief but volatile open­ing move­ment of the D mi­nor Con­certo, RV 249 and the fiery con­clud­ing Al­le­gro of the A mi­nor work – dashed off with devil-may-care aban­don. Mar­tynov is elo­quent, too, in the slow move­ments which are in­fused with op­er­atic lyri­cism and pathos. ★e pours out the Largo of RV 301 like a lovelorn so­prano; the icy Grave of RV 357 has an eerie beauty, while the sigh­ing mo­tifs of the 12th con­certo’s Largo are ut­tered with poignant grace.

Sardelli di­rects with tire­less en­ergy, mak­ing some Al­le­gros rather breath­lessly hard-driven, and Vi­valdi’s less-in­spired, har­mon­i­cally static fast move­ments verge on the mo­toric. (the more yield­ing ac­counts of Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante shape the mu­si­cal lines with sub­tler con­tours and dy­nam­ics.) None­the­less, with their mix of Ital­ianate spirit and Rus­sian vir­tu­os­ity, these per­for­mances cer­tainly don’t lack bril­liance. Kate Bolton-por­ci­atti PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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