INCE: Symphony No. 3, 'Siege of Vienna' / Symphony No. 4, 'Sardis' (Kamran Ince/ Prague Symphony Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.557588)
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Kamran Ince (b.1960)
Symphony No. 3 'Siege of Vienna' Symphony No. 4 'Sardis'
Winner of the Prix de Rome and Lili Boulanger Prize,Kamran Ince was born in Montana to American/Turkishparents. Growing up in Turkey (1966-80), he trained atthe Ankara and Izmir State Conservatories (theory,cello, piano), before returning to America to work withSamuel Adler, David Burge, Christopher Rouse andJoseph Schwantner at Oberlin and the Eastman Schoolof Music (gaining his doctorate). Formerly Composerin-Residence with the California Symphony (1991-93),he is Professor of Composition at the University ofMemphis, Co-Director of the Dr Erol ?£?ºer Center forAdvanced Music Research (MIAM), Istanbul TechnicalUniversity, and Founder-Director of the IstanbulModern Music Ensemble.
Written mainly to commission, Kamran Ince'spredominantly instrumental catalogue embracessymphonies, concertos, chamber music and scores forballet and film. His music expresses the topography of acountry which stretches from the High Taurus to theCaucasus, the Aegean to the Mediterranean and BlackSea, 'a fantastical jumble of mountains, deserts, plainsand ocean', as one commentator has described Ince'smuscular, primeval, neo-romantic style. But there is alsoa quality about it that is very American, the untamedAmerica of the wild, open spaces of the Montana of thefirst six years of his boyhood.
Principal inland trading-post on the road to theOrient, Ferdinand and Leopold's Vienna stood at thefrontier between Europe and the 'Turkes', Christianityand Islam. The Ottomans laid siege to the Habsburgstwice - under S??leyman the Magnificent in 1529 andMehmet IV in 1683. Against expectations neitherattempt succeeded. The lighter spoils of war, on theother hand, did - 'Turkish music', coffee, croissantssymbolic of the 'Great Flag of Mahommed' - ensuringthe old lion from the East would never be forgotten. TheThird Symphony, Siege of Vienna (September 1994 -March 1995) was commissioned by the AlbanySymphony Orchestra. The orchestral forces are notablysubstantial, including an extensive percussion battery,piano, synthesizer and electric bass guitar.
Exceptionally, there are passages also for a quartet ofWagner tubas - which instruments, courtesy of theCzech Philharmonic Orchestra, we decided to retain inthe present recording, dispensing with the hornsotherwise indicated in the score. Using material, Incesays, that is 'a synthesis of West and East [...] a meetingof the characteristics of the two,' the work falls 'loosely'into five movements subdivided into eight scenes,played without a break.
I Long March [introduction] 'King of all theInhabitants of the Earth, and of the Earthly Paradise [...]Lord of all the Emperours of the World, from the risingof the Sun to the going down thereof, King of all Kings,Lord of the Tree of Life [...] I will make my self yourMaster, pursue you from East to West, and extend myMajesty to the end of the Earth' (The Great TurksDeclaration of War Against the Emperour of Germany,20th February 1683).
II City under Siege [second movement, A]. Thethrust and parry of attack ... raining fire ... scatteredlives in prayer ... the pounding percussion and shrill,braying timbres of Turkish battle music.
III War of the Walls [second movement, B].
Mehmet's adviser, Evliya ?çelebi, visiting in 1665,considered Vienna's ramparts 'a menacing fortress [...]as strong as Alexander's castles'. In the summer of 1683the Ottomans, taking no prisoners, were a mere 450paces away, the sultan's elite Janissary corps evencloser.
IV Forgotten Souls [third movement]. A Homericrequiem for the forsaken, lamenting 'the bloodybusiness of the day'. The third and fifth sections focuson a harmonically static cloud of 86 briskly rising andfalling Aeolian scales, combined with a varied versionof the opening section's scale melody - scene-paintingsuggestive of the 'Prayers and Tears of a Cast-down andMournful People,' the 'Fire Works' of Islam racing thehorizon like zephyrs across the sky.
V Calls [fourth movement, A]. War Signal. Call toPrayer - 'like imams calling in close but differentlocations,' imagines Ince, 'all a little out of sync'.
VI Final Assault [fourth movement, B]. Sunday12th September 1683. Sunrise, 'hot Skirmishes'.
Afternoon, 'fierce heat'. Fighting 'from ridge to valley[...] valley to ridge'. Charge of Sobieski's Polishcavalry from the heights of Kahlenberg.
VII Victorious City [fourth movement, C]. No bellsbut raucous, triumphant Lydian 'Polish' whoopsalternating with falling 'Teuton' bass fourths as theenemy is put to flight, 'leaving the Plunder of theirCamp behind them'.
VIII The Great Retreat [finale]. What vanquishedmen on the Danube-Balkans road 'must have feltmarching back to Constantinople' and winter.
Domes (February - April 1993), for flute/piccolo,clarinet, bass clarinet/E flat clarinet, bassoon, two horns,trumpet, bass trombone, harp, piano and strings, wascommissioned by the California Symphony. Anorganically inter-related nocturne of dippingsuspension-bridge design, the mood throughout, Incewrites, is of 'spiritual obsessiveness, ever descendinglines searching for something, trying to feel what theyare searching for, to seek out what they are feeling -rather like Whirling Sufi Dervishes'.
Calling for an orchestra including three percussionists,piano, mandolin, electric guitar and bass guitar, Ince'sFourth Symphony, Sardis (July 1999-July 2000) wascommissioned by Crawford H Greenewalt Jr, Directorof Excavations at the Sardis site north-east of Ephesus(Harvard-Cornell Expedition). Commanding thecorridor to the Anatolian Plateau, Sardis (present-daySart) dates from the Bronze Age. Capital of Lydia in thefirst millennium BC, it was besieged and plundered bythe Persians c546 BC, becoming subsequently thewestern terminus of the 'Royal Road' to Susa. Later itsurrendered to Alexander the Great. Important as apulpit of early Christianity (one of the 'Seven Churchesof Asia' addressed in Revelation), sheltering a privilegedJewish community, it came under the Arabs in 716before passing into Turkish hands around the eleventhcentury.
I Hermus River. Palaeolithic man walked here, theHittites too. Ince gives us slow, circular, 'very free',dynamically rising and falling modal music, the stringplayers murmuring as they bow their notes.
II Necropol. More than a thousand rock-cut Lydiantombs are found in the valley hills of the gold-bearingPactolus overlooking the twin-standing columns of theTemple of Artemis, mother goddess of Hellenistic AsiaMinor.
III Acropol. A craggy, weathered peak defining thecity's high outline. The movement includes two largescaleincursions - the second using ritualistic repetitionsand thunderous, flaying bass-drum double-attacks tocreate an enveloping sense of the mightily wheeling'chariots and armoured footmen of Lydia' recalled bySappho.
IV Thousand Hills. To the north lies the royal burialground of the Lydian kings - a 'strange lunar landscape[...] where a hundred earthen cones [tumuli], simulatingnature's hills, commemorate human vanity' (GreenewaltJr).
V Tmolus Mountain. 'Holy Tmolus' was sacred toCybele, goddess of Sardis. Twice Ince tackles the massif- jagged, stabbing tutti chords edged in the dissonancesof storm lightning. Twice an oboe returns - 'an idee fixerepresenting the mountain's grandness and eternity'.
The faster central section, a long dynamic ascent withrecessed solo violin, is an Ivesian tumult. In the coda thehigh repeated As of the final clause remember Necropolto the call of cicadas beneath the last star of dawn.Ates?© Orga