Saygun: Piano Concertos No 1 And 2 / Griffiths, Onay, Bilkent So
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If you can imagine the combination of Bartók's alternately nocturnal and percussive keyboard writing (and scoring) married to the chromatic luxuriance of Szymanowski or Scriabin, then you have a good sense of what to expect from these two marvelous concertos. Saygun was without question a major composer, one of the last of the great ethnic nationalists. The influences of Turkish folk music have been fully absorbed into an evocative, personal idiom that has enough ties to Western tradition that aficionados of the great Romantic concertos won't lose their bearings while still savoring the many new, colorful, and atmospheric sounds that Saygun evokes.
The First Concerto dates from the 1950s, the Second (composed for the splendid soloist on this recording) from the 1980s. There's perhaps a touch more refinement to the scoring of the Second Concerto, but both are full of ear-catching ideas and offer plenty of virtuoso opportunities to the pianist. We probably won't get any more recordings of these pieces anytime soon, so it's a good thing that the performances here sound wholly fresh, idiomatic, and full of fire. I've been pushing Saygun's distinctive, masterful body of work for years, but if you haven't taken the plunge then this excellently engineered disc makes a great place to start.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 777289-2
Composer: Ahmed Adnan Saygun
Conductor: Howard Griffiths
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Gülsin Onay