This disc strikes me as an ideal introduction to the music of Turkey’s greatest composer. Ahmed Adnan Saygun’s style might be described as “Szymanowski with a primal rhythmic feel.” If you love the composer’s First Violin Concerto then you will find here a very similar exoticism, nocturnal atmosphere, and love of voluptuous textures. The harmonic style is intensely chromatic, but also highly melodic. Like Bartók in his last period, Saygun’s handling of tonality mellowed toward the end of his life, which makes the Cello Concerto more consonant than the Viola Concerto, but both works are absolutely gorgeous and masterpieces of their kind. It’s positively criminal that no one plays these pieces regularly in concert. The performances here are excellent. Tim Hugh is a well-known cellist, and he pours on the tone with all of the rhapsodic abandon that Saygun requires. Mirjam Tschopp also is a superb violist, with a big, beefy tone that never gets swamped by the intricate orchestration. It’s also very rewarding to hear a Turkish orchestra in this music–and to find that it plays beautifully under Howard Griffiths.
Philip Jones Griffiths first visited Vietnam in 1966. It was an experience that would profoundly shape his career. Griffiths captured incredible images of the victims of war from innocent civilians to young soldiers caught up in the conflict. His 1971 photo journal, VIETNAM INC. transformed forever our understanding of this terrible conflict. Featuring interviews with some of those closest to him; family and friends and colleagues including John Pilger, Don McCullin and Professor Noam Chomsky, this beautifully shot documentary gives fascinating insight into the life and legacy of a man who was a true humanitarian and whose pictures are classics of photojournalism, as powerful today as the day they were taken.
Considering the extraordinary talent assembled for Tony Williams' second Blue Note date as a leader, this could have been a landmark session. Unfortunately, it's not. Spring isn't totally forgettable; on the contrary, the fire expected by members of the Miles Davis Quintet (Williams, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter), all thoroughly influenced by "the new thing," were unleashed completely from Miles' tight rein. Add tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers and Albert Ayler bassist Gary Peacock into this mix and that influence thrived. However, the five Tony Williams compositions (including the drum only "Echo") often failed to provoke the musicians into reaching crucial unity, making Spring haphazard, falling short of the expected goal.
The viola works on this recording fuse lyricism with virtuosity, and sometimes invoke folkloric moments as well as more rhapsodic flights. Martinů’s 1955 Sonata plays on elements of folk music and rhapsody, as well as a toccata-like intensity and a pervasive feeling of nostalgia. Kodály’s Adagio is an early work, highly expressive and richly romantic, whilst his compatriot Dohnányi wrote a Sonata of mature distinction, employing variations and transformed themes to magical effect. Joachim, upholder of the German violin school, also composed, and in his Hebrew Melodies crafts great pathos, whilst Enescu’s Concertstück fuses the lyrical with the dashing, as befits a competition test piece.