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Ahmed Adnan Saygun Symphonies

Symphony No. 1 (1953) Symphony No. 2 (1957)
Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Ari Rasilainen

CPO 999 819-2 [recd 2001, Ludwigshafen Philharmonie, Germany, 55 mins]

Do you ever notice a CD on your shelves and can't remember it at all?

This just happened to me with this splendid CD which I put on the player and listened to straight through.

Knowing nothing about Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991) and having no prejudice in favour of new releases, I bring it to your attention with enthusiasm. The notes are comprehensive and amply summarised on Music Web's reviews, so I will not repeat the information therein; none of us gets paid for copy-typing!

Saygun's early music here is 1950s'ish neoclassical with a big dose of traditional Turkish modal (maquam) input, a happy mix. These two symphonies, written fairly closely one after the other, each lasts just under half an hour. Derivative they may be (thoughts of Roussel, Honegger, Martinu, Enescu, Bartok (Saygun was his research assistant) and others crossed my mind too) but the music sounds fresh and would delight many an audience which only likes to risk music it already knows; ideal fare for BBC orchestras to present in their afternoon concerts? The last two movements of the first symphony are a bit on the short side, if that bothers you, and the finale of the second symphony, , a swirling race with a fugal passage in the middle, stops abruptly.

Well put over by the Rhineland-Palatinate State Philharmonic Orchestra under Ari Rasilainen, this was one worth taking down from the shelf, dusting and playing!

© Peter Grahame Woolf