Hezarfen Ensemble proudly presents its second CD „Of Light and Shadows - Hezarfen Ensemble live in Berlin“, a live-recording of its Concert at Maerz Musik Festival 2013 on the Turkish composers' label CAGSEV. With works by Hasan Ucarsu, Zeynep Gedizlioglu, Onur Türkmen, Füsun Köksal, Tolga Yayalar and Ahmet Altinel, Hezarfen intoroduces worldwide audiences to the astounding level and variety of music coming from young Turkish composers that is virtually unknown outside the country.  

Based on Mevlana poetry

The libretto of the piece is based on the idea of putting Mevlana’s poetry into the mouths of nearly all the characters as they act out this drama of mystical love, loss, and regaining. “I wrote the first version of that, which the Belgian director Caroline Petrick - who had a big influence on the piece and deserves a lot of credit for its evolution - criticized for being too historical, though she loved the idea of the poetry and other elements. We then found a dramaturge to help, and then an actual librettist to rewrite, but then Caroline was even less pleased with his version than with my original. At that point in the summer of 2009, having absorbed this whole process, I took the libretto again and totally rewrote it,” Ellison said. 

After the rewriting process the action became more direct, more down to earth and forceful by utilizing speech more, something which is very much needed amidst all of this poetry, Ellison added. “Now, the libretto still has linearity, there is a much more ‘vertical’ aspect to it: it is more poetic, more abstract, less historical, while the action is more palpable because the characters are very down to earth in their interactions. It works much better dramatically this way, and despite all of the gorgeous poetry everywhere, we also try to be very clear about the story,” he said.

After the writing was complete it was time to bring music to the piece, so Operadagen, VocaalLAB, İKSV and the Istanbul Music Festival came together to collaborate on the production of the project’s music. 

“Yesim Gürer in 2011 introduced me to Deniz Ova, İKSV’s international director, and thus the connection was made that would lead to the work’s premier on the 40th year of the music festival. The fact that you are seeing a new, contemporary opera premiered on this festival along with all the other extraordinary concerts is really a credit to Ova,” Ellison said.

He noted that the music was not a reflection on Mevlana’s philosophy as much as a portrayal of his moment of great spiritual crisis, when Shams-i Tabriz came and turned his life upside down. “Listen the Reed,” the famous opening 14 lines, as well as a story of a mouse and frog, are included from the Mesnevi, which in general is a more philosophical work. But most of the poetic material is taken from his early ghazels. 

“These poems are on fire with longing for Shams, longing for the Beloved, desire for annihilation in the divine. They are fully alive, exquisitely beautiful and therefore very, very inspiring for music,” Ellison said.

SUBVOICE is a collection of nine recent works by composer Yannis Kyriakides for various ensembles ranging from single instrument to large orchestra, that represent an investigation into ideas of voice and language. The music is built on traces of voices and texts that seem to speak or sing in an intimate form of dialogue, either as text that is directly encoded into music, or in traces of voice that are embedded and dissolved into the musical fabric.

Performers on this double CD include: MAZE, Hezarfen Ensemble, The Electronic Hammer, Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Francesco Dillon, Elisabeth Smalt, Dario Calderone, Barbara Lüneburg, Michel Marang and Reinier van Houdt.

Two of the works in the collection have received prizes, Words and Song Without Words won the International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) Prize in 2014, and Paramyth won the BUMA Toonzetters Prize in 2011.

The hard cover sleeve is designed by Isabelle Vigier who is also responsible for the original illustrations in the 44 pages book of liner notes and texts by Yannis Kyriakides himself.

Subvoice presents nine experiments – possibilities, if you will – merging socio-political concreteness and poetry of the untold via soft-spoken hallucinations imbued with touching profundity.

“Escher Chronicles” is a series of compositions inspired by Dutch artist M.C. Escher’s prints, engravings and woodcuts. I have had the privilege to record with one of Turkey’s best contemporary chamber orchestras, Hezarfen Ensemble. The work contemplates such concepts as depth, relativity, metamorphosis.

As you may guess, in Turkey or elsewhere very little budget – or most of the times none at all is reserved for classical music of experimental / contemporary nature. “Escher Chronicles” is one of them. Since a higher number of musicians, higher number of recording, mixing and mastering hours was needed to complete a work of this nature. Now the album has finaly surfaced, and you can buy it from D&R shops or A.K. Music.

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