This is one for lovers of modern, harsh music, though it’s mostly not as harsh as it could be; less aural barbed wire than, well something not as barbed or as wiry.
It’s written for small chamber ensembles and when one instrument is being harsh, another is more soothing. Much of the music is like the background music for one of those old prime-time dramas, Mission Impossible or The Man from UNCLE: the hero is creeping about in the baddies’ office and sparse music is used to create an air of tension.
The CD was originally made in 2003 in limited edition and features a cooperation between Turkey and Greece in the form of composer/pianists Panayiotis Demopoulos and Mahir Cetiz.
The opening piece is based on Turkish poet Murathan Mungan’s Mist Bells, and represents a journey towards the unknown, into the mist.
The opening section has melancholy and classical-sounding violin over a more severe piano, with a bell tolling ominously in the background, before piano and flute work together to convey mist blowing in the wind. Given that the sleeve notes refer to the piece nodding at the “futility of human existence in the misty path of life,” it never really heads for jaunty. But there is something compelling about it, and it does not possess that jarring, modern sound that makes you wish it could all be over (the CD, not the futility of human existence). There is a discordant section five or six minutes in, but this settles down to being tranquil. Maybe it’s the moment’s panic in the mist/existence before you accept the existence of mist for what it is.
The next piece, Triptych For Piano Solo, is more harmonious and reflects “the transcendental journeys experienced by the dervishes of Anatolian Sufism”, which means going in a trance by repetition and breathing; this piece is hypnotic rather than repetitive.
Demopouloss’s work starts with Theme And Variations On A Villota by Filippo Azzaiolo and initially abandons modernity for the 16th century, based on piece from 1584. At first it offers welcome familiarity, but soon updates itself; it’s quite lively. “A blend of early Baroque and modern idioms but never pastiche,” as the sleeve notes have it. A fragment of our national anthem’s tune (it’s old) pops up, too.
Elsewhere Of Seventh Doors (Suite for Cello and Piano) was inspired by seeing a one-act opera at the 2001 Edinburgh International Festival, seven movements corresponding to seven doors of the opera, while Richard Wiegold (bass) is enjoyable in Three Songs For Bass and Piano.
Music is from Anairesis Ensemble, with Cetiz and Demopoulos both playing piano. Out on Metier, MSV 92107.