A "Statement" CD Coming From Mehmet Okonsar: "Liszt-Modern":
On the bicentenary of Franz Liszt's birth, the Turkish born Belgian pianist, composer, conductor and musicologist Mehmet Okonsar published a new Album "Liszt-Modern". An arresting selection of works by Franz Liszt concentrating on the particular Hungarian composer's most inspiring and "modern day" musical styles.
Liszt is among the most revolutionary personalities of the nineteenth century and his affect on piano playing and also on creating for that instrument, is incredibly lingering in our times.
Without Liszt, the piano as well as the piano repertoire as we know them at present would be, quite simply, inconceivable. A challenging as well as greatly interesting figure, he strode throughout the music universe just like a colossus and all critical musicians will owe him an immeasurable debt.
This specific CD symbolizes Liszt as a "modern" composer. Liszt was probably the most modern piano player of all times, not simply he revolutionized playing the piano but furthermore the actual music language itself.
The titles on this CD are not only "late-works by Liszt". The disc attempts to highlight the actual "modern" aspects in the Hungarian master's music through a rather sizable time-span. The initial compositions are the Two Legends and the latest ones are definitely the "Bagatelle Without Tonality" and the "Csardas Macabre" and "Csardas Obstine."
The two pieces based on Bach; the "Fantasy and Fugue on the theme B-A-C-H" and the "Variationen uber das Motiv von Bach ("Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen")" are witness to Liszt's serious involvement with organ music and his lifelong connexion with J. S. Bach.
Taken in its entirety this specific launch proposes some sort of look at Franz Liszt as one of the most modern figures of the 19th century music.
1 Fantasie und Fuge uber das Thema B-A-C-H
2 Variationen uber das Motiv von Bach ("Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen")
3 Legendes "St. Francois d'Assise: La predication aux oiseaux"
4 Legendes "St. Francois de Paule: Marchant sur les flots"
5 Les Jeux d'Eaux a la Villa d'Este
6 Bagatelle ohne Tonart
7 Csardas Macabre
8 Csardas Obstine
Two of the tracks are in the artists Youtube(r) channel: mokonsar.
Mehmet Okonsar was born in Istanbul (Turkey) and lived in Paris during his initial instruction. He started learning piano at the National Conservatory of Ankara, with Nimet Karatekin and Necil Kazim Akses. Due to the rich resources the Ankara Conservatory then had and also the Mediatheque of the Centre Culturel Francais d'Ankara, he grew up studying the music of Pierre Boulez, Edgar Varese, Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer, composers that will have a very powerful affect on him. The artist claimed that his real musical education was given at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. His teachers were: Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden for the piano and Madame Jacqueline Fontyn for composition along with orchestration. He furthermore studied along with a former pupil of Olivier Messiaen: Claude Ballif from the Paris National Conservatory along with the renowned pianist Alexis Weissenberg in Switzerland.
His noted concerts included the premiere in Turkey of the Concerto for Piano, op.42 by Schoenberg and his awesome performances of the Concerto for piano by Lutoslawski in Poland.
His repertoire includes a selection from the early seventeenth. century ("The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book") including among others Orlando Gibbons and Giles Farnaby and reaches up to late 20.th century with the works by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Witold Lutoslawski. Remarkable works in this particular repertoire are: J.S. Bach "The Art of Fugue" carried out on organ (or piano) and harpsichord; the Goldberg Variations, the integrale of Well-tempered Keyboard.
Okonsar has performed recitals displaying the total piano works by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Despite he denies most kind of "musical specialization", his repertoire is seriously on the "modern" side with Igor Stravinsky "Three Movements of Petrouchka" the "Sequenza" for the piano by Luciano Berio and also the Klavierstucke by Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Mehmet Okonsar has a striking discography, all titles internationally distributed. By J.S.Bach, Goldberg Variations; The Well-Tempered Klavier (complete in 3 CD set); The Art of Fugue (performed on organ and harpsichord) and The Musical Offering (performed on electronic instruments). An engaging assortment of solo piano, free style improvisations is "Shadowy Arcade", a CD composed with pieces having stirring titles, in Okonsar's individual, personal musical style which is not unlike some very modern jazz improvisation styles.
Information about some of the selections:
The Fantasy and Fugue on the theme: B-A-C-H: This work was written in 1855 during Liszt's period in Weimar and is contemporary of many of the symphonic poems. Originally written for organ, Liszt reworked it for solo piano in 1871. This fantastic piece epitomizes the strengths and the weaknesses of full blown romanticism: It is brilliant, unstable, full of sudden climaxes and equally sudden calms, violently extroverted moments turning to deeply pensive withdrawals. The opening Fantasy launches into the theme without preamble and works itself to a frenzy in the first ten seconds. It reaches three climaxes in the first two minutes before coming to a complete stop.
After an alternation of pensive meditations and sweeping scales, the fugue opens quietly using as its theme the B-A-C-H motive, which is a perfect justification for extreme chromaticism and shifting tonality. The piano version is amazingly powerful.
Bagatelle sans tonalité ("Bagatelle without tonality", S.216a) is a piece for solo piano written by Franz Liszt in 1885. The manuscript bears the title "Fourth Mephisto Waltz" and may have been intended to replace the piece now known as the Fourth Mephisto Waltz when it appeared Liszt would not be able to finish it; the phrase Bagatelle ohne Tonart actually appears as a sub-title on the front-page of the manuscript.
The Bagatelle is a waltz in a typical sectioned dance form, with repeated sections given inventive variation. While this piece is not especially dissonant or atonal in the same sense as in Schoenberg's music, it is extremely chromatic, becoming what Liszt's contemporary Fetis called "omnitonic" in that it lacks any definite feeling for a tonal center. Some critics have suggested, however, that the various underpinnings of the piece—in other words, the main bass notes and melodic elements—work together to imply an underlying tonality of D, which would link the Bagatelle in terms of tonality with the Fourth Mephisto Waltz.
Written in waltz form, the Bagatelle remains one of Liszt's most adventurous experiments in pushing beyond the bounds of tonality, concluding with an upward rush of diminished sevenths. Some have analyzed the piece as being constructed around a symmetrical chord—the G-sharp diminished chord with which the work ends—with the B-F tritone symbolizing Mephistopholes as part of this chord. The lack of a definite key feeling, these critics continue, is due to the piece's reliance on mainly tritone and diminished seventh harmony, as well as the piece's ending in an indefinite manner.
The main theme, marked Scherzando, alternates between F-sharp and F natural, suggesting an oscillation traditional between major and minor modes. Consequently, the main elements of this melody, E and A, combine with C-sharp in the bass to project what would traditionally be considered the dominant here.
A contrasting appassionato section contains a bass line of C-sharp D E-flat E F, that conforms with a standard tonal progression in D minor. Moreover, the motivic activity between this bass line and the melodic features of the introduction strengthens the significance of D as a tonal center, overriding sectional contrasts. The second half of this work is basically a repeat of the first half with glittering variations based for the most part on the harmonic underpinning. The fact the Fourth Mephisto Waltz is written in D major confirms to some critics that Liszt may have intended this work to replace it and that it was indeed written in 1885.
Les "Jeux d'eaux a la Villa d'Este" is the third set in Franz Liszt's triology, Années de Pèlerinage ("Years of Pilgrimage" or "Years of Travel"). Unlike its predecessors in the series, it carries no subtitle relating it to a locale, though the first four pieces were inspired by Italian landmarks. The earliest work here, Marche funèbre dates from 1867, and thus all the music comes from Liszt's final period. The tempos are mostly slow and the moods meditative or mournful, with only the fourth piece, Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este, featuring lively tempos and brighter atmosphere. The set was published in 1883, three years before the composer died.
Impressionism is clearly in evidence in Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este (The Fountains of the Villa d'Este), the most popular piece from the set and the brightest and most picturesque creation in the entire trilogy. You can see cascading droplets and streams of water falling, spraying and splashing in the sunlight. The work also has its share of pianistic challenges, not least of which are the demands for coloristic effects and tonal subtlety. Sunt lacrymae rerum, subtitled "In the Hungarian mode", returns to the mood darker moods of the earlier pieces. Here, however, the approach is more declamatory, the composer once again, as in Funerailles, depicting Hungary from the time of the country's failed efforts at independence in 1848-49. The mood is tragic but defiant, almost proud.