As I mentioned when
the CPO disc of Saygun's first two symphonies,
his music is not a total stranger to
the recording studio. There was at least
one Koch International CD including
a viola concerto of his as well as that
CPO disc of symphonies 1 and 2 CPO 999
819-2. The Fifth Symphony is on CPO
Saygun's music was
part of a movement that from 1923 saw
Western influences borne in on authentic
Turkish voices. His writing was in keeping
with the cosmopolitan reforming drive
of President Kemal Atäturk. The
new government supported Turkish composers
to study in the great centres of world
culture, Saygun had financial assistance
to study in Paris. His brethren included
Cemal Resit Rey, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Hasan
Ferid Alnar and Necil Kazim Akses.
The Fourth Symphony
is a three movement work lasting
well shy of half an hour. The music
recalls the muscular surging energy
of Markevitch and Hartmann. In the second
movement we perhaps detect the gentle
disillusion we associate with Rubbra
or Finzi but with a stronger infusion
of dissonance. I noted less of the Turkish
harmonic ‘sway’ or muezzin melisma-ululation
found in his first two symphonies. The
two outer movements recall the chattering
activity of Alwyn's Fourth Symphony
and in their aggression the grinding
attack of Panufnik's Tragic Overture.
The Violin Concerto
is the biggest work here at three
minutes over half an hour. Once again
the work is creepily energetic, but
finds ample time for almost Delian reflection
and warmth [2:20]. That lyrical vein
also leans towards Berg e.g. at 4.13.
Explosive expostulation from the orchestra
follows the manner of Schoenberg and
William Schuman. Towards the end a Sibelian
tempest boils up and curves down into
silence enigmatically accentuated by
the most gentle of strokes on the tam-tam.
Otherworldly Tempest-like music opens
the second movement Adagio although
there is a more turbulent central episode.
The finale projects a sinister aspect
- a sort of nocturnal march of conspirators
- recalling the finale of Rawsthorne's
Violin Concerto No. 1. In the final
bars the concerto discovers a new optimism
emerging from nowhere. Mirjam Tschopp
seems to be fully in command of the
work's requirements both in drama and
Suite is from Saygun's earliest years.
The three movements are Meseli,
Improvisation and Horon.
Here the Turkish harmonic sway is clearly
heard. The treaty between East and West
does not, in this case, lead to synthesis;
both elements can be heard distinctly.
The suite might be compared with Enescu's
Romanian rhapsodies where folk voices
are to the fore. The sparkling finale
has a very engaging rhythmic signature.
This is music which
in the case of the symphony and concerto
evinces full assimilation of western
art music. The Suite is an extremely
attractive and folk-accented piece.
Saygun's symphony and
concerto will be enjoyed by those who
like their Berg, Hartmann and Alwyn.
All are superbly performed and typically