Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A thought-provoking & satisfying first album

Can Çakmur: piano music by Beethoven/Liszt, Haydn, Schubert, Say, Sasaki, Bartok

After the artificial rigours of the international piano competition world, Can Çakmur (who won in Glasgow in 2017, and in Hamamatsu in 2018) now has a chance to build an interesting, exciting programme for his first recording. His opener is an inspired choice: Franz Liszt's arrangement of Beethoven's song Adelaïde, an arresting piece that alternates between sentiment and all-out flash. Of course we want virtuosity in this situation, and it's here in spades, but in the long-term we're on the look-out for musical intelligence, style and staying power. On the evidence of this album we should be listening to the Ankara-born pianist for a very long time.

Çakmur plays Schubert's E-flat major Sonata D. 568, from 1817 when he was only 20, with wit and delicacy. He doesn't add any anachronistic darkness to the slow movement - the bulk of the composer's agonies are years ahead at this point - but lets the simple sad post-adolescent clouds drift through in their quiet way. The more sophisticated and brilliant F minor Variations by Haydn seem at first deceptively slight, but they are the centrepiece of the album; this is a profound work that Çakmur gives a suitable gravitas and quiet dignity. Fazil Say's Black Earth adapts a folk song by Turkish minstrel Aşık Veysel, complete with the sound of the lute-like instrument the bağlama, approximated by pressing on the piano strings while playing notes on the keyboard. This is an arresting piece that combines piano technique and folklore in an appealing way. Çakmur stays in the world of imitative folk music with Bartok's percussive Out of Doors, and brings his first album to a moving conclusion with Fuyuhiko Sasaki's Sacrifice. This is a complex work with references to Christian theology, to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, to Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and to Andrei Tarkovsky's final film, The Sacrifice, from 1986. What a thought-provoking and satisfying first album!

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