Kamran Ince (b.1960), born in Montana and raised in Turkey, is probably the only composer to have written a symphony for and about a soccer team (or, as Naxos phrases it, keeping the non-American audience in mind, a “football club”). Galatasaray, founded more than a century ago, is a kind of religion to many of the Turkish people, I gather, so why not write a Galatasaray symphony? The question then becomes, what can this music possibly mean to those of us who are not Turkish, and who might not even be all that excited about soccer? Well, it’s pretty exciting stuff—imagine if John Adams (not John Luther Adams, but the John Adams of Nixon in China fame) had rewritten Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and you’ll have an idea about what’s going on here. There’s a lengthy Turkish text, fortunately translated into English in Naxos’s booklet. Here’s an example: “Speak. Tell me. / Where does this love come from? / Tell me. Reveal the secret. / What’s the reason for this pride, this passion?” Yes, these people love their soccer, and don’t you dare get in between the two. If you don’t know a word of Turkish—and you probably don’t—and you don’t read the text, you might well guess that you’re listening to a patriotic oratorio. The appearance of a boy soprano clinches it. And you know what? You’ll probably like this poster-sized, heroic, and appropriately populist music immensely, even if you dislike soccer, or even sports in general. It certainly impressed me.
The other big piece on this CD is the Requiem Without Words, composed in the wake of the terrorist bombings in Istanbul in 2003 that killed Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. A wordless Requiem, then, fittingly becomes a non-denominational one. Still, the keening, melismatic vocals of the ethnic singer create the most potent sense of location. Again, after the work’s opening onslaughts, a more elegiac mood (but equally intense) is established, and Ince’s Minimalist writing (but not strictly so—there is more of Adams than of Philip Glass, although both influences are present) comes to the fore. The singers either sing the vowel “ah,” or (in the work’s agitated climax) seemingly random syllables. Some of the work’s more fragile scoring is very pretty, and when it is, one is reminded of the late Henryk Górecki as well. Like the “Galatasaray” Symphony, this is not difficult music to respond to. Our ears are now trained to accept modern music composed in this style, and when a composer wears his heart on his sleeve as openly as Ince does, we tend not to resist. Very effective stuff.
The two shorter works are no less gripping. Red, Hot, Cold, Vibrant, written in 1992 for the California Symphony, is like an industrial fever dream, full of pounding and shrieking, and madly driving rhythms. If inserted in a film, it would be an immediate hit, and I am surprised no one has thought to do so yet. Before Infrared also has an industrial air, but it is less of a Rite of Spring gone heavy metal than an atmospheric journey with an ominous beginning and an awe-inspiring climax. (The title is an allusion to an earlier work by Ince, called Infrared Only.)
I don’t know how well this music will stand up to repetition—I mistrust anything that works so well the first time I hear it. Nevertheless, Ince has quite an ear for orchestral color, and he has breathed life back into the frankly tired Minimalist style in these four works. I’ll certainly be hunting down earlier examples of Ince’s music—see Fanfare 21:5 and 29:2 for other reviewers’ opinions.
I can’t think why these recordings have been in the can since 2005–07 and are being released only now. The Bilkent Symphony Orchestra offers further proof that Turkey has world-class orchestras, and the vocal and instrumental soloists carry out their unusual duties with assurance. Ince, one assumes, knows how his music should go—and does it ever go! This CD is highly recommended, unless your doctor has warned you against nervous excitement!
Hot, Red, Cold, Vibrantby Kamran Ince Conductor:
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1992
Symphony no 5 "Galatasaray"by Kamran Ince Performer:
Tulay Uyar (Soprano),
Levent Gunduz (Tenor),
Anil Kirkyildiz (Boy Soprano)
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra,
Turkish Ministry Of Culture Choir
Requiem Without Wordsby Kamran Ince Performer:
Guvenc Dagustun (Baritone),
Selva Erdener (Voice),
Olca Kuntasal (Soprano)
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Before Infraredby Kamran Ince Conductor:
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1986
Hot, Red, Cold, Vibrant
Symphony No. 5, "Galatasaray": I. -
Symphony No. 5, "Galatasaray": II. -
Symphony No. 5, "Galatasaray": III. -
Symphony No. 5, "Galatasaray": IV. -
Requiem Without Words
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
EXCITING UNUSUAL MUSICAugust 8, 2014By Vern M. (Minneapolis, MN)See All My Reviews"Be prepared for a rollercoazster ride....the Ince pieces are it....weay over the top. Pieces with unusual ideas/orchestraion/direction...instrumentally, vocally. I like the ideas!"Report Abuse
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