Bosphorus Trio: Piano Trios (Turkish)

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We like a bit of Turkish in the Review Corner. We went to a wedding in Istanbul (as you do, a chum married a Muslim) and did much for Anglo-Turkish relations by dancing energetically to Turkey’s top wedding banger, from Ömer Faruk Bostan. The wedding was just under the bridge on the cover of this album as it happens, the Bosphorous outside the window.

(We subsequently did some musical research and can highly recommend Karolina Cicha, who is not Turkish at all but a Polish singer and multi-instrumentalist, whose album Plyta Tatarska, with Bart Palyga, is excellent).

This album of piano trios by four Turkish composers does not feature any wedding bangers, and is on balance more Western than Eastern, but is dryly entertaining.

Hasan Ferid Alnar’s piano trio opens, with the violin sounding as you’d expect, less Western and more Turkish. The sleeve notes say his compositions are mainly based on makams (music scales) and usuls (rhythmical cycles), derived from the traditional music of Turkey. The sounds include plaintive strings, sections that sound like a call and response from a dance and reflective moments of chamber music, the third movement sombre, the closing piece more Gypsy campfire, with cello.

Ferit Tüzün’s Piano Trio is next, the shortest work on the CD, a Western-influenced piece that’s more fervent than the opener and rolls along, in places almost akin to one of those jazz standards concerning trains. We recently reviewed some music based on physics and this is similar, sounds popping into existence and then vanishing. The Bosphorus Trio discovered this composition in the library of Ankara State Opera and Ballet Orchestra, and this is a world premiere recording.

Ilhan Baran’s Dönüsümler (Transformations) portrays abstract presentations of elements of folk and the traditional makam music of Turkey. Transformations portrays a fantasia theme followed by eight transformations, which he describes as “a kind of atmospheric state of mind”.

Baran started his music career by studying double bass and in one section the cello impersonates his chosen instrument; in other sections this rather gentle piece is more English pastoral than Turkish, although it varies nicely across its 20 minutes.

Oguzhan Balci’s Piano Trio No 1, written last year and the most recent piece by 45 years, closes the programme. It was commissioned by the Bosphorus Trio and consists of three movements, with each movement being dedicated to one of its members: Sunrise Red for Özgecan Günöz (violin), Pure Water for Çaglayan Çetin (cello) and The Mare for Özgür Ünaldi (piano).

This is out now on Naxos, 8.579071.

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