Musical sketches of Turkey
By Anwer Mooraj
KARACHI: In Pakistan, when one talks about the musical tradition of Turkey one invariably conjures up an image of those whirling dervishes in perpetual motion known for their extreme poverty and austerity, treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path.
One hardly ever associates this country with a western classical musical tradition. However, both in Ankara and Istanbul there is a vibrant western classical music tradition which is growing.
On Sunday evening at the Goethe Institut, listeners were able to add a new dimension to the Turkish national musical treasure chest, when they heard, by sheer serendipity, not only the works of a couple of Turkish composers whose piano suites have been performed in the West, but also a Turkish pianist of outstanding ability who entertained a select audience that were guests of the consulate. The old Steinway, freshly tuned and brushed, was ready to be plundered.
Hande Dalkilic, elder sister of Yasemin Dalkilic, the world champion in female freestyle diving, is a 38-year old piano virtuoso of profound lyrical intelligence and seductive technical mastery who kept listeners enthralled for ninety minutes.
As Europe is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederic Chopin, Dalkilic started her recital with four compositions by the Polish composer who, along with Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Debussy, has written some of the most lyrical and romantic music that the world has heard. As soon as the recitalist struck the ivory keys of the Mazurka, which went with a lively grace, one knew the evening was going to be special.
Chopin’s own playing was both powerful and rhythmically subtle with astonishing evenness of touch. He transformed music by harmonic imagination and melodic distinction. There are bold prophetic passages in his music, ornamentation derived from his admiration for Italian opera and his Polish works, particularly his mazurkas and polonaises.
The Noctune was the piece de rÃ©sistance in the Polish contingent. The way Dalkilic stretched the sustained melody and drained the music of its emotional juices was marvelously involving. She never put a finger wrong and the absolute stillness in the hall was a tribute to a fine performance.
When discussing the works of the Turkish composers Ahmed Adnan Saygun and Muammer Sun one has to apply completely different criteria, for the music is at times non-harmonic, exceptionally modern and not always pleasing to the ear. Saygun has a fairly formidable track record Â— four operas, four symphonies, a pianoforte concerto, and a violin concerto. His oratorio Yunus Emre was conducted by Stokowshi in New York in 1958.
The fluency with which Dalkilic interpreted Saygun’s Inci’s Book and the Ten Etudes on Aksak Rhythms, where repeating patterns are strikingly diversified, left the audience spell-bound.
Muammr Sun’s Country Colours of Turkey is a highly descriptive tapestry of sound that makes exceptional demands on the recitalist. In this exuberant variety there are passages of extreme muscularity, harp like arpeggios, flashes of rhythm, passages that are subdued and meditative and others that are nightmarish and full of Stygian gloom. Dalkilic played them all with a raw passion elemental in its strength. Her vigour and warmth were awe-inspiring.
It would be nice to hear Dalkilic play again in Karachi, perhaps in the early summer. People like her are always welcome, for they not only provide top-class entertainment, they are the true ambassadors of their country.