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Kamran Ince: Symphony No. 2 "Fall of Constantinople" / Ince, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra

Ince / Ozgen / Metin
Release Date: 07/26/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572554   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Kamran Ince
Performer:  Kamran Ince
Conductor:  Kamran InceIsin Metin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

INCE Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments, and Voices. 1 Symphony No. 2, “The Fall of Constantinople 2.” Piano Concerto 3. Infrared Only 4 3 Kamran Ince (pn); 1,2,4 cond; 3 I?n Metin, cond; Read more class="SUPER12">1 Neva Özgen (kemence); 1 Celalettin Biçer (ney); 1 Ali Bekta?, Cevdet Akdeniz (zurna); 1 Bilkent Youth Ch; 1-4 Bilkent SO NAXOS 8.572554 (74:24)

In the previous issue I reviewed another Naxos disc of Kamran Ince’s music (8.572553), a collection including Hot, Red, Cold, Vibrant , his Symphony No. 5 (“Galatasaray,” named for a Turkish soccer team), Requiem Without Words , and Before Infrared . My opinion then was, “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 closed the review with a strong recommendation. I am enthusiastic about this disc as well. Despite thorough conservatory training in Turkey and in the United States (Oberlin, the Eastman School of Music), Ince (b.1960) composes not like an academic but like someone who wants to make an immediate and non-condescending connection with his listeners. There is not a lot of subtlety to these fiercely dramatic orchestral scores; Ince usually throws his cards down on the table. They are not models of refined construction, either; Ince tends to develop his material by repeating it, and moves on either by morphing it into the next block of material, or by suddenly juxtaposing it. In some ways, Ince’s music resembles high-quality film music. (In fact, he has composed film scores.) It is both visceral and visual. Overall, though, there’s a sincere passion here that, for many listeners, should sweep aside questions about whether or not this music is “important,” in the academic sense.

The Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments, and Voices (2002, revised in 2009) is pretty much what its title says. Bold colors and pounding rhythms produce an effect that is never less than intense, and that sometimes borders on the nightmarish. (A voice in my head is saying, “You are lost in a Turkish market … strangers with insinuating smiles stare at you from all sides.”) The zurna is a reed instrument (very loud!), the ney is a type of flute, and the kemence is a string instrument, played with a bow. Percussion start the work, and are never very far away. The voices are used for color, not to convey a text’s message. In this work, Ince contrasts brash Turkish folk music with the more refined textures of Ottoman classical music. Ince’s self-professed fondness for the “dirt” of quarter-tones is on display here.

This “dirt” also appears in the Symphony No. 2 (1994). Ince writes, “I am thinking of the Ottoman Janissary band, which naturally plays with quarter-tone inflections and out-of-tune unisons. Which I love.” The symphony’s subtitle alludes to the two-year siege of Constantinople by Ottoman Turks, which culminated in the city’s fall in 1453. The titles of the five movements are full of pictorial and musical suggestions: “The City and the Walls,” “Haghia Sophia,” “Speeches of Emperor Constantine and Sultan Mehmet,” “Ships on Rails: The Marine Battle,” and “Fall of Constantinople.” If anything, Ince’s writing in this symphony often suggests the unlikely marriage between Philip Glass and Allan Pettersson at their most apocalyptic. This is a loud, confrontational score, and if it can be garish, one admires the composer for his honesty in making it so. There is no precious understatement here! This work was commissioned by the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Its recording (Argo 455 151-2) is out of print, but hearing Ince conduct the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra with more in-your-face attitude, I don’t mourn its absence, except for the other works on that CD that now are unavailable.

The Piano Concerto and Infrared Only date from 1984 and 1985, respectively—years in which Ince was completing his master’s and doctoral work at Eastman. Both of them are youthful, with the good and bad implied by that adjective. Ince studied piano with David Burge, and the solo part, which he performs here with confidence, is percussive and very brilliant. The score moves from one audacious, even combative idea to the next, often abruptly, like a multifaceted, dangerous jewel that the composer rolls around in the palm of his hand. Again, one immediately perceives that a colorist, not a logician, is at work, and so Ince was right to keep the work just under the 20-minute mark. Infrared Only suggests industrial-strength John Adams (in his younger years, anyway). The music is heavy and at times blindingly bright, and, if one’s ears are exhausted by it, by the time it is over, at least one has had a good time in process.

As I noted in my review of this disc’s predecessor, the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra is a very capable ensemble. Ince clearly has definite ideas about how his music should be performed, and as far as I can tell, is able to bring them to fruition here. Brilliant engineering, essential in music like this, has been provided. If you’re looking for a thrill, this CD will supply it.

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments and Voices by Kamran Ince
Conductor:  Kamran Ince
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Period: 21st Century 
Written: 2002/2009 
Symphony no 2 "Fall of Constantinople" by Kamran Ince
Conductor:  Kamran Ince
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
Concerto for Piano by Kamran Ince
Performer:  Kamran Ince (Piano)
Conductor:  Isin Metin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984 
Infrared Only by Kamran Ince
Conductor:  Kamran Ince
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Powerful and Distinctive Music April 5, 2014 By P Edward P. (Shoreline, WA) See All My Reviews "Ince has a distinctive musical voice: his works often stresses lots of powerful use of low drums and brass, giving his work an ominous sound. The Concerto for Orchestra also add Turkish instruments and voices and these can be rather startling when first encountered. This is not gentle, easy music; but it is not "ugly modern" either. I know of no other contemporary to whom he can be compared. I can really did his exciting and powerful music on some days, but find it overwhelming at other times. I recommend this with caution." Report Abuse
 excellent February 27, 2013 By b. ruyani (hollywood, FL) See All My Reviews "excxellent recording with some historical implication also interesting use of mid eastern local instrument" Report Abuse
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