AFSHIN JABERI (b.1973): Piano Sonatas No. 1 "The Seeker", No. 2 "The Path to Peace" and No. 3 "The Bedouin", Ballades No. 1 "The Herald", No. 2 "Eroica" and No. 3 "The Martyrdom".
Catalogue Number: 05Q086
Label: Grand Piano
Description: Jaberi's compositions are informed by his Baha'i faith, an inclusive, syncretic offshoot of Shi'a Islam, whose first prophet, Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází, was known as the Báb (The Gate). However, the music is almost entirely not what this might suggest; Jaberi's musical studies took place in Hungary and Kazakhstan, specialising in 19th-century piano literature, and this, broadly speaking, is the idiom he has adopted as his own. A fondness for ornamented, melismatic melodic lines hints at the middle east - most notably the modal Bedouin melody, incongruously but strikingly harmonised in western garb, that forms the basis of the Third Sonata; his harmonic thinking is clearly entirely western. Influences including Chopin, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Liszt and Beethoven are readily apparent, so the music is best described as conservative, but it is far from unoriginal and is crafted with a fluent and thorough use of rich tonal harmony and a natural melodic gift. All these pieces have programmatic content; the First Sonata's journey from turbulence to tranquillity depicts the life of Thomas Breakwell, the first English adherent to the Baha'i faith; the similar trajectory of the Second expresses hope for reconciliation and freedom from prejudice after war; the Third depicts the Bedouin, their cultural identity endangered, yet offered hope through human unity. The three Ballades - aesthetically just what you'd expect from the title - form a cycle relating episodes from the life of the Báb and the early Baha'i faith; The Herald, Eroica, and The Martyrdom. Afshin Jaberi (piano).