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Album review: Fazil Say, Istanbul Symphony (Naïve)


Turkish composer Fazil Say's first symphony pivots aptly on the border of East and West, thanks to his augmentation of standard Western classical forms with native instruments such as the ney flute and the kanun zither.

Lapping waves herald the muted string overture of the first movement "Nostalgia", haunted by the ney, the piece's subsequent development akin to the city awakening to exotic bustle. From there, it proceeds through evocations of Istanbul's sacred and secular sides before ending up back on the beach at sunset. It's an engrossing journey, accompanied here by the premiere of Say's "Hezarfen" concerto, a bravura showcase of sweeping emotional scope for the skills of ney virtuoso Burcu Karada.

Download: Istanbul Symphony; Hezarfen Concerto for Ney and Orchestra