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Ahmed Adnan SAYGUN (1907-1991)
Cello Concerto op. 74 (1987) [24:19]
Viola Concerto op. 59 (1977) [30:45]
Tim Hugh (cello)
Mirjam Tschopp (viola)
Bilkent SO/Howard Griffiths
rec. Bilkent Hall, Ankara, July 2006
CPO 7772902 [55:29]
Experience Classicsonline

Two concertos from the final quarter of the last century by Turkish composer Saygun as recorded by CPO – a label that has already done his music proud.

His oratorio Yunus Emre op. 26 was conducted by Stokowski at the United Nations in 1958. A grant allowed him to study at the Schola Cantorum in Paris from 1928. He formed part of the Turkish Five including Cemal Esit Rey, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Necil Kazim Akses and Ferid Alnar.  Saygun’s catalogue is extensive with five each symphonies and concertos and an opera on the Gilgamesh legend. 

The Cello Concerto is his penultimate work and was premiered by David Geringas in Istanbul in 1993. The Viola Concerto was given its first performance by a violist well known at one time to UK radio audiences, Rusen Gunes, whose participation in broadcasts of two massive chamber works by Franz Schmidt remains in the memory more than three decades later. The latter concerto was first issued in 1989 by Koch-Schwann and has since disappeared from sight. 

Both concertos are works of soulful substance and intensely varied colour. Those in the Cello Concerto are in sable and purple but in textures that are delicate. The material is passionate with a richly drenched  Szymanowskian mien and a strong connection into rhapsodic tonality. It is good to hear Tim Hugh as soloist after his triumphant Naxos Finzi concerto. 

The Viola Concerto has a warmth that is redolent of Walton mixed with Szymanowski (I, 8.02). The mood is one of snarling threat combined with ominous intimations of a hunt - con malizia (Walton). In the finale the glistening fantasies of the Cello Concerto are prefigured. There is outstanding playing again from Mirjam Tschopp who also recorded the Violin Concerto for CPO.
Rob Barnett

See other reviews of Saygun’s music:
Complete String Quartets
Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2
Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5
Symphony No. 4




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