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Azerbaijani Music

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Author Topic: Azerbaijani Music  (Read 1137 times)
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« on: February 19, 2020, 12:15:10 pm »

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

The pianist Elnara Hashimova is our guide through Vasif Adigozal's Six Preludes of 1992. In these works the 'blue note' pastoralism of Mayerl and even of John Ireland is ruffled with tart rhythmic material bearing the stamp of Shostakovich. In the case of the Fourth Prelude, early Rachmaninov is suggested or the iron-shod martellato style we know from his own Fourth Piano Concerto and Bartók's Allegro Barbaro. Some of this also made me wonder whether Kapustin's piano concertos and solos had been heard in Baku. Hashimova rounds out the disc with three of Garayev's winsome 1950 preludes. They are allotted a single track; it would have helped if they had been listed by key or number or title. This is a drawback of other parts of the set e.g. in the Chamber volume.

The disc entitled Chamber is rather a collection of music played by chamber orchestra than a collection of quartets, quintets, duos etc. Much of it is lighter-toned and terse. For this disc the orchestra changes to the Azerbaijan State Chamber Orchestra conducted by Yashar Imanov. Hajibeyov's two pieces are vivid folk-style miniatures - sounding at one moment like Warlock's antique writing, at another like Wirén and at another like neo-classical Stravinsky, all coloured by eastern modality. Amirov's four movement Nizami (1947) is for strings, often muted, and chilly in the manner of late Frank Bridge but also delicately dancing, vinegary and vivid.

Garayev is represented by three preludes for piano with strings. This is graceful and directly poetic writing - easy to appreciate yet with sufficient strangeness to make it memorable. Pianist Adigozalzade takes delight in both the grace and the unmistakable Shostakovich atmosphere of the third prelude.

We know the Tar soloist Ramiz Gulyiev and the plucked sound of his instrument from the Tar concerto by Khanmammadov. Here he is heard in the habanera ostinato-ed Garanfil (Carnation) by Vasif Adigozal; folk culture meets 1970s 'grand hotel'. Azer Rezayev's two pieces from 1994 strike me as truer to their raw soil-clinging roots. Hasan Rezayev's Chahargah (1957) is more ellipitical, shuddering and exotic at least to Western ears. Huseinli's The First Love (1952) is extremely attractive with its romantic inclination and fine ethnic feeling - the tar resounding strongly like a balalaika. Alizade's Jangi (Warrior) skips and scuds along with strings providing rhythmic 'sting' over which the oboe of Oleg Grechko sings tartly.

On the operatic disc there are six tracks allocated to Hajibeyov who wrote the first Azerbaijani opera, Leyli and Majnun in 1908. This was the first mugam opera ever written. Mugam refers to eastern modal music. There were to be six more operas after this. The most famous is Koroglu (1938) of which five extracts are included. While the Tar is included in the orchestra there are not too many overtly Eastern touches. The music moves between a Bizet-like vivacity (some bombast along the way) to Massenet's passionate operatic style (evident in the two Nigar arias from Koroglu) sung by the impressively secure and tempestuous Garina Karimova - a role she has made her own. The most exotic aria is the Song of Khananda swayed or sung here by the gorgeous-sounding Safura Azimi. The uproariously pipe-dominated orchestral dance from Act 3 makes a good finale to this mixed suite. The opera Arshin Mal Alan is represented by the Polovtsi-like Askar's Aria sung by the innocent-voiced Ilgar Muradov.

Magomayev was born in Grozny now part of Russian Chechnya. There are two extracts from his 1916 opera Shah Ismayil. The overture and the Shah's aria are strong rhapsodic little pieces with Tchaikovskian credentials. Almost twenty years later Magomayev wrote his second major operatic work Nargiz which was premiered on 24 December 1935. Karimova sings Nargiz’s aria which approximates in style to Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin but with eastern accents. This is rather old-fashioned for 1935 but extremely attractive.

During the depths of World War II Garayev and Hajiyev collaborated to produce Vatan (Motherland). It was written, rather like Yuri Shaporin's war trilogy, and a host of other works, to celebrate the desperate valour of the Soviet people. Mukhtar Malikov is excellent in this with a heroic Puccinian ring to both his singing in Mardan's aria and to Garayev's and Hajiyev's writing. I would like to hear more of this opera. I wonder if there is a recording of the complete article. Hajiyev also wrote five symphonies (1944, 1946, 1947, 1956, 1963), an oratorio for Stalin's 70th birthday (1949) and a symphonic poem using the Azerbaijani modes of segah, chargah, shur and shushtar. Hajiyev was a pupil of Alexandrov and Shostakovich.
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