Ahmed Adnan Saygun is the most prominent member of the so-called "Turkish Five," the first generation of Turkish composers to work with predominantly Western means in the wake of the establishment of Turkey as a republic in 1923. Educated at the Schola Cantorum in Paris under the tutelage of Vincent d'Indy among others, Saygun played a pivotal role in establishing musical education in Turkey, wrote the first Turkish opera and was a significant musicologist; even during his lifetime Saygun's music attracted international attention. Pianist Kathryn Woodard has prepared this recital for Albany drawn from Saygun's piano music, a genre to which Saygun made contributions in every phase of his long career; Woodard's selection spans the years 1931 to 1976. The example of Bela Bartók is experienced to some degree in much of the music, but Bartók's influence is also felt widely in European music of this time, particularly in Poland, where it likewise infected the works of composers such as Grazyna Bacewicz and the young Witold Lutoslawski. Saygun's piano music reflects a strong interest in Turkish folk music and is very consistent in style through the Sketches (10) on Aksak Rhythms, Op. 58 (1976), where he branches out at times into a more abstract manner. The music throughout is excitedly rhythmic and rich with exotic scales, in addition to being written in a spare, fully characteristic idiom for the piano; Woodard plays Saygun's music with energy and obvious enthusiasm that is sometimes contagious, and the disc gets better as one listens to it more and more. Albany's Ahmed Adnan Saygun: Piano Music is recorded a little close and sounds somewhat compressed, but for what it may lack in high end it gains in presence and loudness, which well suits Saygun's music. That Woodard decided to roll the dice in favor of Saygun is a good call, as all of this music is significant, underappreciated, and expertly crafted; informed ears in tune with 20th century piano music will not regret taking the plunge with Woodard here.
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AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis
|Ten Sketches on Aksak Rhythms, Op. 58|
|From Anatolia, Op. 25|
|Inci's Book, Op. 10|
|Selected Etudes on Aksak Rhythms, Op. 38|