Following his numerous recordings of piano works by composers from Bach and Mozart to Gershwin and Stravinsky, acclaimed Turkish pianist Fazil Say is showcased on this new naïve recording primarily as a composer. The title track is Say’s 1001 Nights in the Harem, a violin concerto commissioned by the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and written for Patricia Kopatchinskaja, with whom Fazil Say formed a duo in 2006. The title recalls the famous collection of fairytales The Thousand and One Nights, and just as Scheherazade is the tireless narrator in that work, so the solo violinist in Say’s concerto takes on the role of “principal storyteller”. The recording was captured live at the world-premiere performance in February 2008 in Lucerne.
Other featured works include the Patara Ballet – a quartet for soprano (or violin), ney flute (or alto flute/treble recorder), piano, and percussion commissioned by and performed at the Vienna Mozart Festival 2006 – and two solo piano works that Say has performed frequently – many times as encores – in his recitals: Alla Turca Jazz, a fantasia on the rondo from Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331, and Summertime Fantasy, inspired by Gershwin’s song and designed by Say to be performed at both classical concerts and jazz festivals.
Fazil Say on his violin concerto, 1001 Nights in the Harem:
“It is the solo violinist who tells the stories and thus leads us through the whole work. The concerto consists of four movements. The first takes place inside a harem. Various women of the harem are presented with their individual personalities. The second movement is wholly given over to the dance – a kind of all-night party with different types of dance music. The third takes place the next morning, and consists in large part of variations on a celebrated Turkish song. Although the fourth movement begins dramatically, it comes increasingly to echo all that has gone before, and the work ends dreamily and calmly with sensuous oriental sonorities. Accordingly, the orchestral scoring includes several Turkish percussion instruments, such as kudümand glockenspiel, as well as marimba, vibraphone, celesta, and harp. The violin part is written in a highly virtuosic style and is used to hold the work together, since the solo instrument plays a cadenza between the movements, sometimes accompanied by a Turkish percussion instrument. Thus the four movements are linked to one another in intensely atmospheric unity.”
Fazil Say: Violin Concerto, 1001 Nights in the Harem (2008); Patara Ballet (2005); Alla Turca Jazz; Summertime Fantasy
Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin)
Fazil Say (piano)
Luzerner Sinfonieorchester / John Axelrod
Available March 31 from naïve