Harmonia, the first recording produced by Duo Harmonia (formerly the Basgoze-Pinto Piano Duo), features newly commissioned works composed for their duo. Featuring elements of Portuguese and Turkish musical traditions, Harmonia leads listeners through a magical landscape not found in traditional Western classical music. All told, Harmonia includes four world premiere recordings and two Western Hemisphere premiere recordings. 

This recording is made possible by a MacPhail Artist Development Grant, funded by the McKnight Foundation. All proceeds of the sale of Harmonia will go towards the duo's next recording project.

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HARMONIA

ABOUT THE MUSIC

Composed and dedicated to the Duo Harmonia in 2017, by Gregory TheisenScenes from Istanbul evokes images of old and new Istanbul, with the first section depicting the hustle and bustle of modern Istanbul. It is followed by a nostalgic turn down the back streets of old Istanbul with its sounds of street cars, street vendors, church bells and calls to prayer echoing from mosques. The work concludes with gypsies dancing and playing music, luring listeners back into the excitement and din of new Istanbul.  

Childhood Dreams, by Mário Franco, is the first commissioned work for the duo, inspired by the composer’s childhood memories with his sister, Susana. The piece reflects the music ever so present in their home: “At the center of these memories was the piano. It was part of our family and a constant presence heard and played by our grandmother, uncles, aunts, my sister and I, and now by our children. The piano became a symbol for me of all our childhood dreams.”  

Composed for piano duet, by Fazıl Say, İstanbul’da Kış Sabahı (“Winter Morning in Istanbul”) begins and ends with hand-muted piano strings – a sound reminiscent of traditional lute-like instruments such as saz, bağlama, or the oud. This unique timbre seemingly leads the audience down the shores of the Bosporus Straight on a foggy morning in Istanbul, where unexpected surprises await.

 

Fado Burnay, by Eduardo Burnay, exhibits a captivating melody with a variety of embellishments. This piece became a repertoire staple of Portuguese pianists during the early twentieth century. The musical genre of fado – meaning ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’ – has two different varieties. The one traditionally sung in Lisbon is by one or two singers accompanied by an acoustic viola and a 12-steel string guitar called guitarra Portuguesa. Fado themes vary from love and longing to the quarrels and struggles of life. Fado Burnay is demonstrative of the dialogue between singer and guitarra typically found in the improvisatory style of a live fado performance. 

Pardon – Bir Nisan Şakasıdır (“Excuse Me – An April Fool’s Joke”) was written by Turgay Erdener in 1987 for advanced piano students so that they could experience the joy of piano ensemble. In the composer’s words: “I composed this piece for two pianos, eight hands for the piano department’s end-of-year recitals at the request of my dear friend and mentor, Banu Perk. I was inspired by the French Les Six, especially Darius Milhaud’s composition Scaramouch, which has bitonal elements and Latin dance rhythm influences. The piece has a surprising section where pianists do something unexpected: sing! The title, Excuse Me – An April Fool’s Joke, comes from that musical surprise. Aside from its premiere in 1987, and one other performance in late ‘90s, Pardon has never been performed, published or recorded until now.”  Composed for four pianists at two pianos, this premiere recording features Pınar and Susana at Piano I and Piano II by overdubbing live in-studio recording sessions. 

Incorporating Portuguese and Turkish musical traditions, the Anatolian-Portuguese Suite was composed and dedicated to the duo in 2017, by Christopher Norton.

 

Hey Onbeşli (“Hey you, from ’15s”) refers to young boys born in the lunar calendar year 1315, which translates to the Gregorian calendar year 1896. These military enlisted boys were young and untrained, yet deployed to Gallipoli, Turkey in World War I. This elegy begins with the theme epitomizing despair and the eminent demise of a lost generation. The war is clearly depicted in the middle section by the repetitive bass line (marching soldiers) and repetitive sixteenth notes (bullets spewed from machine guns).  

Estranha forma de vida – (“Strange Way of Living”) is based on a famous fado by lyricist and fadista Amalia Rodrigues and composer Alfredo Marceneiro. The lyrics express the fate of someone with a strong independent heart living restlessly amongst people. The piece captures the emotional and expressive melisma characteristic of Rodrigues’ singing. 

Zeynep is a lament from the central Anatolian region. It is about a tragic love story involving a young soldier and a beautiful girl, Zeynep. Her beauty and demeanor are praised, adored and envied in her village and the surrounding area. The young soldier’s unrequited love for Zeynep is heartbreaking as she falls in love with another man. Tragically, she dies soon thereafter. The desperate soldier melancholically tells of Zeynep's tragic story.  

    

Vôo para a liberdade (“Flight to Freedom”) depicts the ever-growing anxiety and emotions felt by the Portuguese during the Carnation Revolution of 1974. The gradual tempo accelerando and the virtuosic ending embody the exhilarant mood of victory. 

© 2018 Duo Harmonia

Photography credit: Aslı İskeçeli © 2018