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Turkish Music For Violin & Piano

Saygun / Giray / Chun-young
Release Date: 02/23/2010 
Label:  Erm Media   Catalog #: 7101   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ahmet Adnan SaygunEkrem Zeki ÜnMuammer SunSami Ucar
Performer:  Selim GirayJune Chun-Young
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SAYGUN Violin Sonata, op. 20 1,2. Suite, op. 33 1,2. Inci’s Book 2. ÜN Yudumluk 1. SUN _&ylesi 1. UÇAR Ha Usaklar 1,2 Read more class="SUPER12">1 Selim Giray (vn); 2 June Chun-Young (pn) ERM MEDIA 7101 (64:14)

The question of exactly how one should phrase classical music based on a foreign country’s folk music is a tricky one, and not unimportant. Listeners who have never heard how Bartók played his own music, for instance, will unquestionably accept the angular, slightly brittle style of such modern interpreters as Zoltán Kocsis, but Bartók’s own recordings (there’s a fine cross section on Pearl 9166) reveal a light, pearly touch, a more flowing legato, and far less stress on the music’s exotic qualities. I bring this up because this CD, titled Turkish Music for Violin and Piano , starts with three works by Ahmed Adnan Saygun, whose music is played in an entirely different manner by Kathryn Woodard on Troy 1168 (reviewed elsewhere). Inci’s Book, Saygun’s answer to Debussy’s Children’s Corner, is played here by June Chun-Young in a delightfully coruscating, flowing legato style, while Woodard approaches it with a more sharply etched reading. I personally prefer the former in this work, but am not so sure about the light touch in these other works.

This is particularly true of Saygun’s violin sonata, which is surprisingly much more Western-sounding than his other works. True, Saygun uses Turkish modes here, but by and large the piece sounds purely European. It could have been written by York Bowen—a fine composer, but by no means one you’d hear as exotic in any way. The suite is different, heavily folk-influenced both rhythmically and harmonically, and both Selim Giray and Chun-Young dig into it with relish. (Also with mustard!)

Ekrem Zeki Ün is described in the notes as having been born in 1910. There is no date of death, and this CD was issued in 2010, but since I already made one error in assuming that a composer born 100 years ago was deceased, and since Elliott Carter is also 100 and still alive as of this writing, I must assume that Ün is still alive and kicking. Yudumluk, written in 1972, is a piece for solo violin that also uses traditional Turkish modes and rhythms, despite the fact that he studied violin with none other than Jacques Thibaud.

Muhammer Sun (b. 1932), a pupil of Saygun, inherited the older composer’s mantle as an influential educator and is himself a prolific composer. Söylesi, which translates as Conversation, is another piece for solo violin. It is written in tetra- and pentachordal Turkish modes using dissonant double-stops. The peculiar rhythmic structure of the piece demands extreme precision in execution, but it is by no means a strictly academic work, weaving the Turkish singing style of bozlak (or uzun hava ) into its fabric. If I may be forgiven for not being more descriptive of this music, I beg indulgence for not knowing much about Turkish rhythms and harmonies. This is, indeed, a new world for me.

The CD wraps up with the shortest, and most rhythmically fun, piece on the disc, Sami Uçar’s Ha Usaklar. Apparently, the Turkish dance known as the horon is related in rhythm and tempo to the Jewish hora, and Giray makes the most of it.

As for the performers, Korean pianist Chun-Young graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music and won first prize in the McMahon International Music Competition, but Selim Giray is an even more interesting figure. In addition to his position as associate professor of violin, viola, and chamber music at Pittsburg State University (in Kansas), he is an active researcher. Among other activities, he has published a biography of Saygun, given master classes in Paraguay, and serves as both concertmaster and assistant conductor of the Ohio Light Opera. Recommended.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Violin Sonata, Op. 20 by Ahmet Adnan Saygun
Performer:  Selim Giray (Violin), June Chun-Young (Piano)
Written: 1941 
Date of Recording: 09/27/1944 
Venue:  Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music 
Length: 24 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Suite for violin & piano, Op. 33 by Ahmet Adnan Saygun
Performer:  June Chun-Young (Piano), Selim Giray (Violin)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1955 
Venue:  Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music 
Length: 15 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Inci'nin Kitabi (Inci's Book), for piano, Op. 10 by Ahmet Adnan Saygun
Performer:  June Chun-Young (Piano), Selim Giray (Violin)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1934 
Venue:  Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music 
Length: 7 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Yudumluk, for violin & piano by Ekrem Zeki Ün
Performer:  June Chun-Young (Piano), Selim Giray (Violin)
Written: 1972 
Venue:  Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music 
Length: 6 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Soylesi, for violin & piano by Muammer Sun
Performer:  June Chun-Young (Piano), Selim Giray (Violin)
Written: 1980 
Venue:  Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music 
Length: 5 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Ha Usaklar, for violin & piano by Sami Ucar
Performer:  June Chun-Young (Piano), Selim Giray (Violin)
Written: 1970 
Venue:  Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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