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Azerbaijani Music


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christopher
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« on: February 19, 2020, 12:12:27 pm »

re: "THE CLASSICAL MUSIC OF AZERBAIJAN: Symphonic; Ballet; Concerto; Piano; Opera; Chamber" (cntd)...

This set saw the light of day in June 1997 and was produced courtesy of Azerbaijan International and Amoco.

Azerbaijan is hardly seen as a frontline cultural bulwark. However it merits attention as another enriching, though much neglected, tributary for the world’s classical music. Here, across six CDs, we can experience in one great and multiform swathe symphonic, ballet, concerto, piano, opera and chamber music by fifteen Azerbaijani composers. These include Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Muslim Magomayov, Fikrat Amirov, Gara Garayev, Vasif Adigozal and Haji Khanmammadov. There are seventy-four works in total. Ninety musicians, performing with the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra (Yalchin Adigozalov, conductor) and the Azerbaijan State Chamber Orchestra (Yashar Imanov, conductor), were engaged in this momentous enterprise.

We make an unusual start with the Holiday Overture by Zulfugarov. This is a pleasant jolly piece - gaudily coloured and little different from the many festive overtures being produced throughout the Soviet Union. It makes for an unrelenting Azerbaijani echo of the similar productions of Gliere, Khachaturian and Shostakovich. This one celebrates the first space flight. The composer was a pupil of Garayev whose Leyli and Majnun (related, I think, to the Antar tale and to the same legend that prompted the Majnun symphony by Alan Hovhaness) also appears here. Zulfugarov also has the symphony Sumgayit to his credit. I am curious about hearing him in something with greater gravitas than this overture.

Gara Garayev (also perhaps better known in the translation Kara Karayev courtesy of various Melodiya and Russian Disc productions) stands as one of Azerbaijan's most famous composers. He certainly attracted recording activity from Melodiya in the days when attention was paid to the eastern satellite republics of the Soviet Union. The grand tender theme of the two lovers in Leyli and Majnun (7.20) stands as eloquent testimony to Garayev's melodious voice. One wonders whether Nino Rota knew this piece before writing the Romeo and Juliet film music. This draws its bloodline from Tchaikovsky and early Sibelius. On the same limb one can also find the soviet composer, Rostislav Boiko (a couple of RDCD Russian Discs are desirable). Garayev is no soft touch; much of this music is shudderingly dark and tragically tinted with the presence of the turbulence of battle and the searing acid of loss. Garayev wrote the 1952 ballet The Seven Beauties and there are three symphonies and 24 preludes for solo piano.

Hajibeyov was born in the city of Shusha in the Karabakh region, annexed by Armenia since 1992. His inventive Caravan is a tone poem which is highly coloured and Ravelian in style. The material is akin to Ippolitov-Ivanov and Rimsky in oriental mode.

Fikrat Amirov might be a name that some will recall. He had a number of pieces championed by Stokowski - various mugams or folk rhapsodies. He was drawn to the grandiloquently exotic. Once again these two Amirov pieces are intensely coloured and moody. Amirov's name is likely also to be familiar because a clutch of his orchestral works ended up on two Olympias: Arabian Nights (complete ballet) OCD 578 A&B; Azerbaijan Capriccio for orchestra OCD 490; Gulistan Bayaty Shiraz (symphonic mugam) OCD 490; Kurd Afshari (symphonic mugam) OCD 490; Shur (symphonic mugam) OCD 578 A/B; Symphony for String Orchestra OCD 578 A/B; Tale of Nasimi for orchestra OCD 490. The second Amirov piece, Kurd-Afshari, is a symphonic mugam - a vivid and free orchestral rhapsody around themes of folk character.
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