01 Daniel ZapicoAu Monde
Daniel Zapico
Alborada editions ALB001 (alborada-editions.com)

Daniel Zapico explains that, as soon as he picked it up, the theorbo was to be his instrument. Such is his dedication to it that he takes manuscripts of compositions for inter alia harpsichord, viola da gamba and guitar and transcribes them for theorbo.

Taking inspiration from the Vaudry de Saizenay manuscript of 1699, Zapico performs pieces from six composers in Au Monde. From the start, the theorbo demonstrates capabilities in excess of its younger sister the lute, in the shape of a more resonant, mellow and deeper tone, the instrument being perfectly suited to Zapico’s interpretations. Robert de Visée’s Prélude brings out this very deep and resounding sonority.   

Then there are the longer and more demanding compositions. Zapico selects Couperin’s Les Bergeries and de Visée’s Pastoralle to demonstrate his forceful technique. Contrast these with the sensitivity of Monsieur du Buisson’s Plainte sur la mort de Monsieur Lambert (one of the other composers featured on this CD). This piece is complex and makes real demands on Zapico’s technique.   

Of course, there is always the Bourée by de Visée for a lighter enjoyment of this CD, which is sufficiently varied to show Zapico’s mastery of an instrument overshadowed by the lute in popularity and ultimately by the harpsichord. Zapico’s love for the theorbo is brought home by the highly complex tablature he works from – printed in copper-coloured ink to grace even further this very sumptuously presented CD.

02 Telemann PolonaiseTelemann – Polonoise
Holland Baroque; Aisslinn Nosky
PentaTone PTC5186878 (naxosdirect.com/search/827949087868)

One walks a fine balance when performing early music. Often, musicians and audiences who perform, record and appreciate early music are, and I say this kindly, authenticity fetishists who value the period veracity of everything from the repertoire, tempo and interpretation of the music to, in some cases, the lineage and pedigree of the instruments played, to the ensemble dress. Holland Baroque, led by Judith and Tineke Steenbrink (who supply new arrangements of Georg Philipp Telemann’s familiar music for the recording here), manages to thread the difficult needle of adhering to the purity and concretized tradition of Germanic Baroque performance while imbuing a flair for innovation that places this musical style in a contemporary setting that includes elements of improvisation and innovative collaboration. It is little wonder then that the ensemble has won fans worldwide. 

Here, on their second strong release for PentaTone Records, the group is sure to earn even more accolades and listeners. Joined by Canadian early music violinist Aisslinn Nosky, the group explores Telemann’s Danses d’Polonié (TWV 45), which the composer wrote during his Polish travels, and which had a lasting impact upon his compositional style and artistic output. Cinematic and rich in its thematic mining of the imagery, landscape and nature of Poland and its surroundings, this recording is a winner. Sure to delight connoisseurs of early music while making fans out of other listeners too.

03 PisendelJohann Georg Pisendel – Neue Sonaten
Snakewood Editions SCD202001 (snakewoodeditions.com)

The name Johann Georg Pisendel is perhaps not all that familiar today, but during his lifetime he was highly acclaimed as a violinist and concertmaster. Born near Nuremberg in 1687, Pisendel studied at the Royal Chapel at Ansbach where among his teachers was Giuseppe Torelli. He continued his studies in Leipzig and ultimately enjoyed a long and successful career in Dresden as leader of the Dresdner Hofkapelle, an ensemble that won the praise of no less a figure than J.S. Bach.

Pisendel’s own output was small, but among his compositions are four chamber sonatas scored for violin, cello and continuo, discovered in the immense assemblage of scores that he amassed during his lifetime and which now comprises the esteemed Schrank II collection in the library of Dresden University. These Neue Sonaten are presented here for the first time ever on this splendid Snakewood label disc performed by the ensemble Scaramuccia.

Under the leadership of director/violinist Javier Lupiáñez (performing on a 1682 instrument), the four-movement miniatures truly come alive – what a joyful sound these musicians produce! Lupiáñez’s skilful playing – his phrasing always carefully articulated and artfully nuanced – is complemented by the solid performances of cellist Inés Salinas and harpsichordist Patricia Vintém. Many of the ornamentations in the form of cadenzas and passagework were added by the musicians themselves, based on a thorough study of Pisendel’s performance practices. Indeed, the melding of Pisendel’s solid compositional style exemplified in these recently discovered works with Scaramuccia’s careful and intelligent approach is a fortuitous one. An added bonus is a charming but anonymous harpsichord sonata in D Major that Vintém performs with much flair.  

The attractive slipcase and artwork further enhance an already appealing disc.

04 CavatineCavatine
DUO Stephanie and Saar
New Focus Recordings FCR274 (stephsaarduo.com)

This piano duo disc by Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia (DUO) has expressive virtuosity written all over it. It’s not simply four-hands piano that has been captured on disc, but repertoire as poignant as it is rare. Its late Beethoven is paired with late Schubert. And its music is evocative of the unrequited love both men lived with. In Schubert’s case, it was also a life lived in the permanent and towering shadow of the master, so much so that he – in an almost Shakespearean kind of twist – was even buried next to Beethoven. 

All of this spills over into the highly charged program on Cavatine. DUO Stephanie and Saar has completely subsumed every emotive aspect of this music. There is even an extraordinarily eerie seamlessness of how Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major Op.130 slides into the Cavatine, then into the Grosse Fuge Op.134, before ending up in Schubert’s Fantasie in F Minor D940

This is a made-for-each partnership. The amazing rapport between Ho and Ahuvia and their impeccable style unite to produce winning results. The warmth and tangible empathy on display here bring out all of the music’s emotive aspects – especially in the intensely lyrical movements of the Quartet in B-flat and the Cavatine, which gives way to the chromatic boldness of the Grosse Fuge and finally in the rhapsodic features of Schubert’s Fantasie. All of this makes a disc to absolutely die for.

Listen to 'Cavatine' Now in the Listening Room

05 Schubert GaudetSchubert: Explorations
Mathieu Gaudet
Analekta AN 2 9184 (analekta.com/en)

One year ago, in May 2020, this reviewer wrote of a new release from pianist Mathieu Gaudet. Late Inspirations was the second installment of an ambitious project to record the entirety of Franz Schubert’s sonatas and major works for piano. Since then, Gaudet has added another two discs to the anthology: The Power of Fate in October 2020 and Explorations in March 2021. What a thrill it has been to discover each of these records in an alimentative journey comprised of attentive listening. From its wondrous, heights to its simplest of gifts, Schubert’s art is a way of life for Gaudet.

As a fulltime emergency physician, Gaudet has persevered through a harrowing year for human beings on our planet, combatting a health crisis on a magnitude not seen for a century. The compassion, care and healing that Gaudet surely delivers to his patients is transfused – enviably – to his musical artistry. As listeners around Gaudet’s keyboard, we are in safe hands. His deeply empathic connection with Schubert is genially revealed, phrase by phrase, piece by piece, as we are led through a lifelong tended garden, ever-watered with a sublime Schubertian prowess.

A consistent feature of each disc thus far is a blending of the known with the unknown. Explorations opens with the familiar Moments Musicaux, D780. What comes next is unexpected: three fleeting German Dances, D972 that sway and yodel with a folksy kind of charm.

Of Gaudet’s many attributes, his rhythmic sense of rightness remains high atop the list. With a shrewd savvy for pulse on the highest order, Gaudet sculpts phrases and perfectly arrays accompaniments. Such rhythmic irresistibility – such fantastic finesse – proffers trips of light indeed. His pianism is capable of casting spells of merriment, akin to the province of tunesmiths who magically set their songs ablaze, dancing and frolicking in the hot sun. Daylight ordains such tales of love and loss, of anguish and dubiety. And yet, a celestial certitude hovers over such oases of musical expression. Such is the stuff as Schubert’s art is made on.

06 JurinicCorrespondances
Aljoša Jurinić
KNS Classical KNS A/097 (knsclassical.com)

The professional relationship of Chopin and Schumann was a curious one. Both composers were born in the same year, and while Schumann greatly praised the music of his Polish colleague, Chopin rarely, if ever, responded with similar sentiment. Whatever dissimilarities the two may have had, the Schumann Fantasy Op.17 and Chopin’s set of 12 Etudes Op.25 make a formidable pairing on this KNS live recording featuring Croatian-born pianist Aljoša Jurinić who came to Toronto in 2019.

To say the least, Jurinić’s credentials are impressive. Not only was he the winner of the Schumann Piano Competition in 2012, a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth and Leeds competitions in 2016, but also a finalist in the International Chopin competition in 2015. He has since appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Wiener Musikverein and the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. 

The Fantasy is regarded as one of Schumann’s finest compositions and among the greatest in the entire Romantic repertoire. With its contrasting rhythms and tempi, the piece is not easy to bring off, but Jurinić’s performance is nothing less than sublime. He approaches the score with a true sense of grandeur, the broad sweeping lines of the opening, the stirring second movement and the introspective finale tempered with a flawless technique.

In the set of Chopin Etudes Jurinić breathes new life into this familiar repertoire, once again demonstrating full command of the technical challenges; from the graceful first etude in A-flat Major right to the thunderous No.12 which brings the set, and the disc, to a most satisfying conclusion.

How fortunate for Toronto that an artist of Jurinić’s stature has chosen to settle here – we can only hope his residency will be a lengthy one and that we may hear him perform in concert when conditions allow.

07 Lineage Deborah GrimmettLineage – Tracing Influence
Deborah Grimmett
New Classic Records NC01 (deborahgrimmett.com)

The full range of both the beautiful – and beautifully recorded – Glenn Gould Studio piano, and a solo piano repertoire that spans the historical continuum from Brahms and Debussy to such contemporary composers as Iman Habibi and the little-known Rhoda Coghill (this may be the recording premiere of any of Coghill’s compositions) is on full display here with this wonderfully expressive FACTOR and Canada Council for the Arts-supported 2021 release. Exhibiting a deft touch and clear musicality, Toronto pianist Deborah Grimmett presents an intimate view into not only her own considerable musical talent, but her biographical story of overcoming a repetitive strain injury from over-practising as a music student, to stepping away from the piano in order to heal and then, finally, returning to the instrument to make what is clearly a meaningful and deeply personal recording. 

This is one of those presentation formats (solo piano) and recordings (live off the floor, close-miked instrument) that when you take away any other extraneous factors, all that is left is the musicality and interpretive power of the performer and the music itself. As such, Lineage: Tracing Influence does a fine job, offering one of those listening experiences where fans of classical music, solo piano or just those who need some auditory solace from the everyday banality of life (particularly so during yet another lockdown) can immerse themselves in order to derive pleasure, meaning and inspiration.

08 Mahler 10 VanskaMahler – Symphony No.10 in F-sharp Major
Minnesota Orchestra; Osmo Vänskä
Bis BIS-2396 (naxosdirect.com/search/bis-2396)

Mahler’s final work lay hidden for decades as shorthand sketches still awaiting a full orchestration. Alas, the completion of the work was tragically cut short by the composer’s premature death from a broken heart at the age of 50. Fragments of this manuscript were subsequently revealed over the decades by his imperious widow Alma Mahler-Gropius-Werfel, who considered the work to be a private love letter to herself and only relented to allow the work to be published after listening to a BBC broadcast tape of the “performing edition” that Deryck Cooke prepared for the Mahler centenary in 1960. Cooke’s realization underwent subsequent refinements and his third and final 1976 edition, incorporating previously suppressed materials, has become the preferred version among several alternatives. 

Recordings of the work are relatively rare, as a fair number of conductors have questioned the legitimacy of the score. These skeptics will, I hope, be won over by this commanding performance from the Minnesota Orchestra, which ranks among the finest available. The work is in five movements, similar in structure to Mahler’s Seventh Symphony. The slower first and fifth movements are tragic cries of despair while the inner, faster movements are comically sarcastic, echoing the scherzo and rondo movements of his Ninth Symphony. There is a wonderful spontaneity to Osmo Vänskä’s choice of tempos in these central movements, strikingly so in the accelerations of the unusually asymmetrical measures of the second movement, which tumble over themselves in a delightful confusion. The longer outer movements feature the highly refined playing of the string section, hovering at times at a nearly inaudible level, with superlative contributions from the solo wind instruments. Add to this excellent program notes and stellar sonics from the BIS recording team and you have yourself an outstanding addition to the discography of this passionate, autobiographical masterpiece. Not to be missed!

09 Nezet Seguin RachmaninoffRachmaninoff – Symphony No.1; Symphonic Dances
Philadelphia Orchestra; Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Deutsche Grammophon 12192 (deutschegrammophon.com/en/catalogue/products/rachmaninoff-symphony-no-1-symphonic-dances-nezet-seguin-12192)

Imagine you have the entire Deutsche Grammophon catalogue, a whole wall covered in shelving designed for CD’s, each spine of every disc displaying the well-known colours. Lucky you! Just now, taking pride of place is this sparkling new release, the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin performing Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony Op.13 and Symphonic Dances Op.45 (his final published work).

What to praise first? Recording quality, which whisks you around the sections of this fabulous orchestra as, one by one, they show off their mastery of dynamics, technical agility, musical insight; and most of all, the unheard presence channelling the composer through the players before him, the young (still young!) maestro from Quebec. Possibly no composer offers better witness to Nézet-Séguin’s mastery. With seamless logic, he links the furioso character of the Allegro ma non troppo first movement to its episodes of pathos. Every detail is considered and brought forth. This recording is an encounter with deep Russian melancholia, and Philadelphia’s legendary warm sound is the perfect medium for the maestro’s skill.

Interesting to pair this youthful early symphony, from 1895, with the Symphonic Dances, composed in 1940, when Rachmaninoff was living in California. Poorly received as it was at the premiere, the symphony is incredibly ambitious, and if tonally conservative, it offers glimpses of the strange wonderful paths the 22-year-old would soon follow. Make yourself wait before letting this recording of the Dances deliver you into another world of wonder. If the engineers have filed off any “edge” in the sound, there’s punch and beauty in spades, and a luxurious gong fade at the end!

10 Rattle RachmaninoffRachmaninoff – Symphony No.2
London Symphony Orchestra; Sir Simon Rattle
LSO Live LSO0851D (lsolive.lso.co.uk/products/rachmaninoff-symphony-no-2)

It’s just about time that we realize Sir Simon Rattle is one of the greatest conductors of our time. His bio is the ultimate success story. As a kid from Liverpool with minor conducting assignments in England, in 2002 at age 42, he was elected music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, the most prestigious and probably the best orchestra in the world. The youngest ever for this honour. He kept this post amazingly until 2018 when he “retired“ with the highest accolades, beloved by the orchestra and the City of Berlin, but his career was far from over. Soon thereafter, he went to Vienna and conducted a wonderful Ring Cycle at the Staatsoper, televised, so I was lucky to watch it. He had numerous recordings on the EMI label, but in 2017 he took over the London Symphony and began recording on the orchestra’s own label, LSO Live.

Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony is the best of the three he wrote and has always been a favourite of mine. After the failure of his First it shows full maturity of his creative powers. It has a “sustained vitality, richness of lyrical invention and a glowing eloquence capable of rising to extraordinary power” (Robin Hull). Rattle conducts the entire uncut version from memory and it’s such a relaxed and spontaneous reading aided by the highest quality HD sound that so reverberated throughout the house that I was wholly enchanted.

11 Strauss Tone PoemsRichard Strauss – Complete Tone Poems
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg; François-Xavier Roth
SWR Music SWR19426CD (naxosdirect.com/search/swr19426cd)

When searching for the performance of Also Sprach Zarathustra that would mightily reinforce the opening of 2001, A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick finally selected, presumably on its impact, the Decca version with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan. After much negotiating, it was agreed that Kubrick may use that performance under the condition that it is never identified (perhaps I should have prefaced with “spoiler alert”). I am quite sure that if that were today, the power of the vehement timpanist in the opening of the SWR version in this outstanding new set could very well be the choice.

At the helm is François-Xavier Roth, the French conductor who is best known as the director of Les Siècles, an original instrument orchestra that he founded in 2013, and which has recorded many stunning versions of Baroque and early-20th-century favourites, including Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Among his myriad appointments and awards are general music director of the City of Cologne and principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Undoubtedly his activities in the field of historically informed performance have attuned his ear to ensure every instrument in the orchestra is audible as these performances of familiar and perhaps less familiar tone poems demonstrate. They are Ein Heldenleben, Sinfonia Domestica, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Tod und Verklärung, Metamorphosen, Don Juan, Don Quixote, Eine Alpensinfonie, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich, Aus Italien and Macbeth. Strauss is well served by performances of commitment and intensity, passages where winds, brass and percussion appear… not spot-lit but there. The perfectly recorded performances dating from 2012 to 2015, as in earlier recordings from this source, are convincingly live.

Roth’s same meticulous attention to detail and perfect balances may be viewed and heard conducting different orchestras in diverse repertoire on the optional music channels available on cable TV and YouTube.

12 Coleridge Taylor 1Uncovered, Vol. 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Catalyst Quartet; Stewart Goodyear; Anthony McGill
Azica ACD-71336 (catalystquartet.com/uncovered)

The late-19th-century British composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, conquered the United States with his musical ingenuity. But could his being billed – somewhat patronizingly – as the “African Mahler” have blunted his singular musical achievements? We will never really know, and it may even be unimportant now as, with Uncovered, Vol. 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the Catalyst Quartet turns the marquee lights on to illuminate his elegant music, and not the colour of his skin.

But poetic justice must also come by way of inviting pianist Stewart Goodyear and clarinettist Anthony McGill – two prodigiously gifted Black musicians – to participate in this significant musical project. The association with Mahler does have some significance however, because it took decades of proselytizing by conductors such as Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Mengelberg and Leonard Bernstein before Mahler’s symphonies became audience-pullers. If it’s fallen upon the Catalyst to do likewise for Coleridge-Taylor they’ve certainly delivered. 

These are über-articulate readings of the Quintet in G Minor for Piano and Strings Op.1 featuring Goodyear, Quintet in F-sharp Minor for Clarinet and Strings Op.10 featuring McGill and Fantasiestücke for String Quartet Op.5. The Quartet’s musicians shape phrases with attention paid to every nuance of the scores, while the music’s grand sweep remains paramount throughout; Goodyear’s pianism sings in the piano quintet and McGill’s clarinet does likewise in Op.10. The Catalyst’s performance is marked by a wide range of touch and timbre, with extraordinary emphasis on the inner voices of Coleridge-Taylor’s eloquent music.

13 Symphonic RoarSymphonic Roar – An  Odyssey of Sound from the Paris Conservatoire
Yuri McCoy; Brady Spitz
Acis APL92957 (acisproductions.com)

Inspired by French composers’ exploitation of the organ’s myriad multicoloured sonorities in these “symphonic” works, Houston-based Yuri McCoy says he feels “free to orchestrate… in many different ways,” often making “many more registration changes than indicated in the score.” (As for the “roar,” wait for it!)

McCoy and console assistant Grant Wareham collaborate in Jean-Louis Florentz’s Poème Symphonique “La Croix du Sud” (2000), named for the constellation. With influences from Florentz’s teacher Messiaen, and Tuareg and Sufi music, it growls, chirps and surges around disquieting interludes that conjure mysterious, desolate landscapes.

A noble central anthem illuminates the celebratory Allegro Vivace from Felix Alexandre Guilmant’s Organ Sonata No.2 (1862). Joseph Bonnet’s brief Elfes from his 12 Pièces (1910) is a gossamer swirl of shimmering light, rendered in sound. Fantaisie, Op.101 (1895) by Camille Saint-Saëns comprises a murmuring, gentle andantino, a tempestuous fuga and a calm, reassuring finale. Clair de Lune from Louis Vierne’s 24 Pièces, Suite No.2 (1926) paints a secluded nocturnal scene in muted pastel watercolour.

At nearly 28 minutes, the CD’s longest and most “symphonic” entry is a remarkably effective arrangement by McCoy and percussionist Brady Spitz of Edgard Varèse’s Amériques (1921), the original version requiring 27 woodwinds, 29 brass and an immense percussion battery. Collin Boothby assists McCoy on organ and Spitz on percussion, employing all of Varèse’s noisemakers – lion’s roar (!), siren, rattles, cyclone and steamboat whistles, etc., etc.

Fascinating listening, from mystery-laden start to roaring finish!

14 In a Time of WarIn a Time of War
Phillip O. Paglialonga; Richard Masters
Heritage HTGCD 173 (heritage-records.com)

In a Time of War, featuring clarinetist Phillip Paglialonga and pianist Richard Masters, proffers works by two composers suffering exile during WW2. An odd pairing to be sure, but it’s possible to hear some common ground between Serge Prokofiev and John Ireland. If you listen to the late moments of Ireland’s Fantasy-Sonata for Clarinet and Piano there’s an argument to be made. Written in 1943, the same year as Prokofiev’s Flute Sonata Op.94, the Ireland work does what a lot of mid-century English music does: explore modernity and expression, but aloof in a way that might evoke Prokofiev the man, although not his music. 

I think clarinetists should leave well enough alone when it comes to poaching repertoire, especially in the case of the Prokofiev, which after all was more or less stolen from flutists for the already-crammed violin library by David Oistrakh (with Prokofiev’s complicity!). Sorry, flutes, it’s a better piece in the second take. Opus 94a is heard as often, if not more than the original. The clarinet version here should maybe be called Opus 94a(b), I don’t know. It’s very dicey, range-wise, and hardly idiomatic for the clarinet. Paglialonga manages the high tessitura quite well, but most tempos are slower than you might be used to, and the balance has his sound too far in front of Masters, which jars a bit at the opening. The duo’s rendition is a work apart from the original, as a quick reference to Oistrakh’s recording will confirm. 

A third work is included, also from 1943, Ireland’s Sarnia: An Island Sequence, a solo Masters performs with more freedom than the other tracks demonstrate. These are good performances, if somewhat staid.

15 Classical KidsClassical Kids: Gershwin’s Magic Key
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Classical Kids Music Education 270541 (classicalkidsnfp.org)

Gershwin’s Magic Key is the first new album in 20 years from the award-winning platinum-selling Classical Kids, most famous for Beethoven Lives Upstairs. This high quality, dynamic studio recording features the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras conducted by Allen Tinkham, voices of professional actors Elic Bramlett and Leslie Ann Sheppard, and head writer/music supervisor/featured pianist Will Martin, who premiered the original live concert.

Set in 1920s New York, the three-act story revolves around a newspaper boy’s chance meeting with composer George Gershwin, leading to the two travelling through New York, verbally telling stories based on Gershwin’s life and the times, intertwined with his music. The opening attention-grabbing string swirls, clear spoken words, piano solo and wailing clarinet set the stage for a fast-paced, exciting fact-based production both children and adults will love. The supportive spoken tips from Gershwin, such as “I was a changed person learning piano; Every sound is music; Do not let anyone tell you what you can or cannot be;” are positive reinforcement for the boy, and all children listening and reading the liner notes. 

Gershwin’s compositions featured include fabulous orchestral renditions of Summertime, An American in Paris and the upbeat singalong/dance-along I Got Rhythm. Educational musical outtakes from other composers include Dvořák’s Humoresque, the Tin Pan Alley hit Take Me out to the Ballgame, and 1920’s Baby Face. Finale recreates the world premiere of Rhapsody in Blue, from the piano/orchestra exuberant performance to the recording’s closing audience cheers. Bravo!

01 To AnatoliaTo Anatolia – Selections from the Turkish Five
Beyza Yazgan
Bridge Records 9549 (bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all)

A love letter to Anatolia (Asia Minor), this album introduces young artist Beyza Yazgan, a Turkish pianist now based in New York. Yazgan expresses immense pride for her heritage and gentle longing for her homeland through a wonderful selection of piano pieces by a group of 20th-century composers known as the Turkish Five. She also includes her own illustrations and detailed liner notes on Turkish music traditions, thus making this album even more personal. 

Yazgan’s interpretation of these compositions is simply lovely. Her heartfelt approach brings out beautiful colours from gentle and melancholic pieces. On the other hand, she engages masterfully with complex rhythms in more percussive compositions, making her performance well balanced and charming. 

The Turkish Five – Ahmet Adnan Saygun, Ferid Alnar, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Necil Kazim Akses and Cemal Reşit Rey – transformed the music of their time by introducing Western compositional styles and forms and blending them with rhythms and modes of traditional Turkish folk music and dances. Just as Anatolia itself has been the land of many cultures and flavours, so is the music on this album. From the beautifully atmospheric Little Shepherd by Erkin and feet-stomping Horon by Reşit Rey, to the elegant Zeybek Dance by Alnar, the pieces tell stories of the unique and rich music heritage of this land, its people and customs.

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