FAZIL SAY (b.1964): Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 48 (RSO Berlin; Markus Poschner), Sonata for 2 Pianos, Op. 80, Winter Morning in Istanbul For Piano 4-Hands, Op. 51b.
Catalogue Number: 08V063
Label: Winter & Winter
Reference: 910 255-2
Description: Say proudly proclaims that "I am a Turk, and I write music like a Turk." And he certainly does, saturating his music with the modes and melodies of Turkish traditional music and emulating the sounds of its instrumentation. Equally important, though, is the fact that he is a passionate neo-Romantic whose music invariably has great dramatic and emotional impact. The concerto here is a good case in point. It nails its programmatic colors to the mast before the music starts, as the first work in a series commemorating the violent and tragic events in Gezi Park, Istanbul, in 2013, when a crowd celebrating and protesting against the government were answered by a brutal crackdown. The soloists act as protagonists in the drama, siblings caught up in the tragedy as part of the crowd. The first movement opens by evoking the warm summer evening. There is song - Say has a gift for melody, whether original, adapted, or quoted - from the soloists, taken up by the orchestra. A noisy, exuberant dance breaks out, happy and energetic, and in the final section it is as though a camera zooms out to show a panorama of the peaceful park and its occupants as night falls. The central movement offers a chilling premonition of what is to come later in the night. Gezi Park contains the tomb of a holy man, who, legend has it, led a rebellion against the destruction of the forest that stood on the site in which the very trees rose up against the destroying army. The battle music, played out against the eerie howling of the wind machine, owes more than a little (but not too much) to the Shostakovich of the 7th, 11th, and 12th symphonies. Finally a troubled calm descends. Battering drums announce the finale - "Police Raid", in case there were any doubt as to what is going on. The music is brutal and mechanistic, merciless and unrelenting, mixed with the wails and screams of the victims. You hear the terrified siblings racing to and fro, seeking safety. They escape the cacophony of the orchestra, which is not heard again, as they conclude the work unaccompanied in a sorrowful duet. The Sonata is a powerful work, about the inspirations for which we can tell you nothing, as the booklet for this release offers a new definition for the term 'useless'. The determined, ostinato-driven opening movement strongly suggests that Say harbors considerable admiration for Prokofiev's 7th Sonata. The slow movement is songlike, like a richly harmonized traditional melody. The jazzy finale is rhythmically and melodically unmistakably Turkish, beginning energetically and gradually winding down. Winter Morning in Istanbul, composed entirely in a Turkish mode, is a nostalgic vision of the Romantic ancient city, now overwhelmed by the noise and concrete of modern Turkish progress. Melodic and lyrical, it is briefly disturbed by an agitated climax. The composer makes use of his 'drumming' effect, muting the strings with the palm of the hand, something of a trademark and an effective coloristic device. Ferhan Önder and Ferzan Önder (pianos).