Ellen Jewett

Turkish Music for Solo Violin: Saygun, Türkmen, Cetiz

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One wishes for a little more detail here about how violinist Ellen Jewett came not only to teach at Ankara University, but also to organize her own chamber music festival in the Cappadocia region, called Klasik Keyifler. These activities brought her into contact with contemporary Turkish composers, many of whom she has championed, and this album includes two new commissions that form an attractive contrast with each other. Onur Türkmen's Beautiful and Unowned is both programmatic -- it is meant as an evocation of Cappadocia -- and influenced stylistically by the classical Turkish makam procedure. Sample the Soliloquy of Mahir Cetiz, which is more Western-oriented. It's a remarkable work, whose soul-baring quality, ending in an eerie, sparse calm, is not quite captured by the title: its mood is often violent and even tortured, and Jewett's playing gives it full voice. The opening work, although it has never been recorded before, is by Ahmet Adnan Saygun, one of the so-called "Turkish Five" who developed Turkey's Western classical music scene. Composed in 1961, it was influenced by Bartók's Sonata for solo violin (1944) but is Turkish in flavor despite its Western tonality. An intriguing feature here is the recording location: a cave in Cappadocia that gives the Cetiz work a really eerie resonance. A recommended recording of music by composers that will be all but unknown outside Turkey.

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