This Turkish Recital album, by a long-time musician but a first-time CD producer, has been a very exciting, enjoyable, and meaningful project for me, as I took it from early planning to rehearsals and final recording of performances.
How did I start on this Turkish Recital endeavour?
I dreamt of this program since my student days at Ankara State Conservatory.
Then, I would play Adnan Saygun’s ‘’Horon for Clarinet and Piano’’ which I found on the Conservatory Library shelves and kept in my cabinet among Western Classical Music scores and ask myself: Why aren’t the works of our national composers played more in recitals and included in programs? Do our composers have other works for clarinet and piano that I haven’t come across yet? I carried these thoughts with me for years.
The idea of preparing a concert program consisting of works of Turkish composers arose from a simple request by Herman Braune, a Dutch clarinettist and educator. During one of our train trips he asked me whether I would want to plan a clarinet recital consisting of works of Turkish composers. I immediately responded, ‘of course.
Unfortunately, at that time, I did not have enough readily available works for putting together a dedicated program. I had to do research and reach out for works of our contemporary composers to prepare a selected program consisting of only clarinet and piano pieces. At the end of my research over several years, I had a rich collection extending from “The Turkish Five” to contemporary composers. I had the opportunity to personally meet and work together with several Turkish composers, some even participated at rehearsals. Meliha Doğuduyal and Evrim Demirel, two of the contemporary Turkish composers, composed pieces especially for this project. Premiere performances of these works have been presented in our special concerts.
I hope that the Turkish Recital album will be a source of inspiration and I am deeply grateful to all who supported and laboured with me on this project.
Recognition of national music of a given country and its contemporary composers is directly proportional to how well the compatriot performers, orchestras and state institutions embrace these works and by eventual engagement of well-known soloists and orchestras for the performances of these works. A successful example of such promotion is Finland’s efforts to popularize the Violin Concerto of its national composer Jean Sibelius.
Unfortunately, works of the composers that emerged with the encouragement of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), the founder and first president of Republic of Turkey, in search of universalization have not become internationally well-known as desired. Instrumental soloists who graduated from Ankara State Conservatory, founded in 1936 as the first Turkish music institution in higher education, and later increasingly other educational institutions, have endeavoured hardest for their dissemination.
Pianist-composer Fazıl Say, pianist Gülsün Onay, violinist Cihat Aşkın, violist Ruşen Güneş and cellist Dorukhan Doruk, whose works and recordings are circulating in the 21st century, are the most prominent figures dealing with these promotion efforts. In addition, in terms of symphonic compositions, conductors Hikmet Şimşek, Gürey Aykal, Rengim Gökmen, Howard Griffths and Asi Rasilainen have made significant efforts with regards to both live-performances and recordings. When famous international cellist Yo Yo Ma plays solo violin compositions of Turkish composer Adnan Saygun as part of his recitals, credit should be given to personal promotion efforts of our motivated musicians.
Emirhan Tuğa, a clarinet soloist whom I admire, due to his devotion to his country despite living in Netherlands for many years and his virtuoso performing ability, is the name that has become prominent in woodwind instruments. I closely witnessed how he chased down some forgotten compositions produced for clarinet during the early Republican period. He found the composers and talked to them about their work and included these pieces in performances. Tuğa’s efforts led to the creation of a recital program consisting of Turkish compositions produced for clarinet and piano. Emirhan Tuğa, who is equally fond of folkloric and “maqam” compositions, new music, jazz and avant-garde, has created an archival collection CD which can be enjoyed by curious listeners, music historians and musicology experts. The recording reflects the diversity of the Turkish compositions produced for clarinet-piano over the last 90 years.
Culture and art journalist, music author