It is difficult to know where to begin with this release. MEM
Productions is a Turkish company founded by Murat Malay, which
means this is effectively a self-publication. A previous triple-disc
release on this label was reviewed
here. This fact is of more than passing interest, because
CD 3 of that release featured the Yunus Emre Symphonic Suite,
though it was known then as the Yunus Emre Symphony.
Quite possibly it was renamed because it in no way resembles
a symphony. In any case, this appears to be exactly the same
Turkey has produced a number of fine composers of art music
in the last century, the so-called "Turkish Five"
being the most prominent, but Malay, on this evidence, is not
one of them. Even the liner notes, such as they are, describe
him merely as "theme composer" - does that mean he
did not do the orchestrations or the harmonisations? Similarly,
Tugrul Karatas is described as "orchestra composer"
- does that mean he wrote the orchestrations, or merely that
he assembled the musicians, who are drawn from the ranks of
the Istanbul Symphony Orchestra? MEM's website describes Malay
as a "journalist-writer", which would explain why
the music sounds 'pre-composed', clichéd and superficial, with
very little differentiation between any of the ten sections
of the two works.
There is no CD booklet as such. In its place comes a foldout
poster (roughly Ledger/Crown size), with a gaudy red music design
that BBC Radio 3 would probably be proud of on one side and
information on the other. Quite what the point of the poster
is, is anyone's guess - do MEM imagine that people who buy this
CD will stick it up on their bedroom wall? In which case, how
do you get at the information on the reverse? Not that the information
is all one would wish it to be. Though there is a lot of text,
80% of it talks about the cultural importance of Yunus Emre
and Mevlânâ, important Turkish writers from the 12th century
- but without relating them at all to the music which bears
their names! Another problem is that much of the text is written
by Malay himself, whose knowledge of the English language is
stretched beyond it limits to degrees that make intelligibility
difficult in places. For example: "He asserted a love of
symphony, he praises of folly (among crowds who are not suspicious
of their mind.)" There is more of this on the MEM website,
a link to which is given on the poster. Unfortunately, the link
leads straight to a Turkish-only homepage, which will be of
little use to most of those English speakers the poster is written
for! Random clicking will eventually prove fruitful with regard
to language, but the notes on this and previous releases stop
only just short of gibberish.
None of these problems would matter as much if the music was
worthwhile - but it isn't. Which is not to say that it is bad
- although some will say it is - but, though foot-tappingly
passable in places, it is simplistic at best, and vacuous
at worst. Many of the instruments sound synthetic (computer-generated).
If that is not the case, the musicians urgently need better
The final track of Yunus Emre Symphonic Suite, entitled
'Secret of Headstones', is poorly edited - at least a fraction
of a second has been accidentally trimmed off at the beginning.
On the other hand, the music is so trite that only a determined
few will get that far. Sections four and six of the Mevlana
Symphonic Suite suffer the same fate, and many of the tracks
on the disc are faded out unnaturally quickly.
Despite all these misgivings, there seems little doubt that
this CD will find a market, with its New Age cum pseudo-folk
cum 'World' music feel. Ironically, the banality of these pieces
means that it will probably earn Malay money - their stock rhythms
and melodies lend themselves well to use as TV or film music.
Lovers of sophisticated classical music should, however, stay