This unique release is the fifth in a series of CDs that pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran has recorded for the Eroica Classical Recordings label It is a unique collection of piano works that you will not find on any other recording, ranging from Scarlatti's early music compositions in the 18th Century, to Bernsteins modern idiom, with a dash of Turkish flavor by composer Ahmet Adnan Saygun.
Pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran started her music studies at age four at the Istanbul Conservatory. She has a Concert Artist Diploma from the Liszt Academy of Music , Budapest, where she studied under Prof. Zempleni Kornel, Prof. Katalin Nemes (pupil of Bela Bartok), Balazs Kecskes, and Prof. Istvan Lantos. She also has a Diploma in Aufbaustudium from the Hochschule f*r Musik , in Freiburg, Germany, and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from University of Southern California . Her awards include American Liszt Society Award, Rozsnyai Memorial Award, Ina Broida Award from UCSB, and USC Associates Music Merit Scholarship. She is also a recipient of the MAA 2001 Aspen Summer Music Festival Scholarship, where she was selected to play in the distinguished artist Master Class of Leon Fleisher. She won the Second Prize at the 1996 Los Angeles Liszt Competition and an Honorable Mention in the same competition in 2000. She has given many recitals in Turkey, Hungary, Germany, Slovenia, and in the United States.
At present she is a DMA candidate in Piano Performance at USC , studying with John Perry. Since 1996 she has been living in Santa Barbara, California.
In February 2002, she completed recording a collection of virtuoso solo piano works of Franz Liszt in Abravanel Hall, Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
REVIEWS OF THIS AND OTHER ZEYNEP UCBASARAN CDS ON THE EROICA LABEL
"In each of the four movements of the mighty A major sonata she establishes a tempo which allows the music to expand and express itself simply and strongly; nothing is exaggerated or pulled out of shape. I would single out the finale in particular as a piece of supremely musical playing; it just flows naturally from her fingers..This is a finely conceived, thoroughly Schubertian-sounding performance which rises to an exceptionally good finale, and the "Wanderer" is perhaps finer still..The recording is rich and full-toned and, as in her Liszt album, Ucbasaran provides notes that are clear and go straight to the point. In an age where you can easily pass for an "original" interpreter by disrupting the musical line and bringing out "different" inner voices, I can only salute pure musicianship such as Ucbasaran's which puts itself at the service of the composer; this is the sort of art which is likely to grow while other supposed phenomena blaze and fall by the wayside. I suspect we will gradually hear more and more from this pianist."
Christopher Howell, MusicWeb, London
"The Turkish pianist gives us objective performances of clarity, sharp detail, rhythmic vitality, and integrity. She is obviously a player for whom outward brilliance and virtuoso display are of secondary importance, markedly sublimated to purely musical values. Her liner notes are concise and informative, and her CD has been carefully produced and engineered, though the sound is on the dry side. Gustav Klimt's beautiful painting of Schubert at the piano appears in the brochure.. In overall evaluation, I would place this release on a par with the recordings of Schubert's A-major Sonata by Jando and Andsnes reviewed in the last ARG. I am happy to have this recording in my collection.."
David Mulbury, American Record Guide
"Zeynep Ucbasaran's playing of Schubert's A Major sonata and "Wanderer" Fantasy is very persuasive. Although the playing is not overly nuanced, her remarkable rhythmic steadiness keeps the music moving forward impressively, and is neither stilted nor breathless."
Paul Turok, TUROK'S CHOICE
"In this rewarding CD recorded at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, she plays two works by Franz Schubert: his profound and noble Sonata in A major and the visionary Wanderer-Fantasy. Both pieces are awe-inspiring in their scope and demanding for the performer but Zeynep Ucbasaran plays superbly and intelligently throughout.."
John Pitt, New Classics, UK
"Recording the large-scale Schubert piano works is a challenge. The music does not respond fully without a performance vibrating to its depths in gathering up the scintillating decoration of Schubert's style without undue exaggeration, yet with a perspective that is both stable and credible. Only occasionally do I consider Zeynep's playing a touch less convincing than expected, but there is plenty of insight with which to draw the music together and to maintain a sense of propulsion. We have here the Wanderer Fantasy and the Sonata in A -- a very fair choice of Schubert at his best, and even today gripping us with its sustained quality."
Basil Ramsey, Music & Vision, UK
"This disc shows off the versatility of Turkish pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran...She takes on the most Apollinian of Schubert's three late (1828) piano sonatas, the A Major, whose second movement Andantino features some haunting writing melodically and polyphonically, with a kind of ferocious homage a Bach. She keeps a light hand on the proceedings, emphasizing the lyrical energies in this monumental piece. I found myself much admiring her technique, often forgetting about the import of the music.."
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition
Santa Barbara Liszt Album (CD Debut)
"In a recital entirely devoted to Liszt, this young Turkish pianist has produced a noteworthy first record. Her program includes several brilliant pieces, but most of the space is devoted to poetry and romantic meditation. And this type of music best reveals Zeynep Ucbasaran's artistic talents. In the Funérailles, she expresses a sustained romanticism, shaped by a sensitivity that knows its own limits. Such masking of her virtuoso performance would lead to a too restrained interpretation were it not for the subtle contrasts she achieves, for instance in the crescendos, which she skillfully manages right to their peak. By softening the angles, she suggests rather than states. In Nuages Gris, she flirts with silence more than with the avalanche of notes, and in the Fantasy and Fugue on BACH there seems to be a mystical seeking. But she fails to bring out the heroism of the music. It lacks grandeur, sharpness, and a noble structure. The rhythmics of the 'Eroica' Etude are too lazy: they ruin the beat and take away from the energy necessary for the blossoming of this piece. The Schubert song transcriptions are well handled but still need work on the range of levels and on the art of legato in the melody. The left hand should tremble and murmur to the right hand, "Am I too loud?" while thinking of Gerald Moore. The right hand should exalt and sustain the story into the silence that prolongs the final chord."
Stephane Villemin, American Record Guide, November/December 2002
"This is a well-played and extremely musical Liszt recital. The programme is varied and interesting, the recording full and natural, if not up to the highest standards of the major companies, the presentation striking, even though I was not taken by the long-exposure photographs. Zeynep (the cover emphasises the first name, a Turkish habit) is a pianist from Istanbul whose most recent training was made in California. She has written her own booklet note, a practice I applaud.
Zeynep shows a mature understanding of the enormous difficulty in reconciling LisztÕs technical demands with the need to sustain musical line and compositional structure. By an essentially understated approach, yet one that does not skimp on virtuosity, she successfully negotiates pieces as wild as Eroica or as spiritual as The Bells of Geneva. Fun railles is extremely demanding and Zeynep is clearly equal to it. She appreciates its programmatic character and is especially winning in the dark central section.
Similarly, her sympathy with the strangeness and tragedy of Nuages gris is evident, although neither in this nor in the equally difficult B.A.C.H Fantasy and Fugue can she quite yet sustain the mystery and length of paragraph needed to reveal them to best advantage.
The three song transcriptions are beautifully played if uneven ø given that one imagines the piano version must in part convey the mood of the original. Ave Maria is wholly sustained by its beguiling line; however I missed the agonised, if self-indulgent torture suffered by the hero of Erstarrung and the depth of Aufenthalt.
The Spanish Rhapsody, always in control, never forced, and with excellent lyrical episodes brings the recital to an exciting conclusion. Liszt is generally easier to record than to perform live ø his technical demands are so unrelenting that the luxury of several takes is a benefit. Recorded Liszt can therefore sound sterile, discontinuous; ZeynepÕs disc is never that if sometimes lacking the last degree of profundity or incandescence. As a debut studio recording this is a fine achievement."
Ying Chang, The Classical Source, July 2002
"The brilliant Zeynep Ucbasaran started her music studies at age four at the Istanbul Conservatory and later studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. Awarded second prize at the 1996 Los Angeles Liszt Competition and an honorable mention in the same competition in 2000, she has given piano recitals in many countries and currently lives in Santa Barbara, California, where this outstanding CD was recorded. The works are Les cloches de GenÅ½ve, FunÅ½railles, Eroica, Tr*be Wolken/Nuages gris, Fantasie und Fuge *ber das Thema B-A-C-H, and Schubert Lied Transcriptions: Erstarrung, Aufenthalt, Ave Maria and Rhapsodie espagnole. Zeynep UcbasaranÕs playing is particularly fine in the impassioned FunÅ½raille" - John Pitt, New Classics
"There is no question that Zeynep Ucbasaran has the technical equipment to handle Liszt's challenges, but what is most impressive is the intelligence and sensitivity she brings to her playing... Ucbasaran handles the demanding passages of Fantasie und Fuge *ber das Thema B-A-C-H with elegance... and concludes with a rousing version of the Rhapsodie espagnole." - Tony Gualtieri, Classical Music Review
"A gifted young artist, at her best in the BACH Fantasy and Fugue and the Spanish Rhapsody. She has a secure technique and a sound sense of structure..." - Christopher Howell, MusicWeb, London