Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Necil Kazim AKSES (1908-1999)
Violin Concerto

Cihat Askin (violin), Hannover Radio Philharmonic Orchestra/Rengim Gokmen
rec 31/08/2000, Hannover
CPO 999 799-2 [45'16"]
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Who to recommend this to? Nobody or everybody, there's certainly something for everyone. To quote the note, Akses continues 'the chain of the great lyrical concertos', citing, among others, Beethoven, Brahms, Reger, Berg, Stravinsky, Walton and Barber. Nice to see Reger included. Akses though doesn't have that level of personality or individuality.

Akses (1908-1999) was born in Istanbul and would become a member of the 'Turkish Five Group' (here we go!); he is regarded as 'one of the founders and pioneers of Turkish polyphonic music'. Studying the violin from age 5, then the cello, Akses was musically educated in Vienna and Prague, held several music-administration positions in Turkey, taught composition and composed numerous chamber and orchestral pieces and two operas. Of his six symphonies, the last is unfinished.

Akses wrote his Violin Concerto between 1967-69. At 45 minutes it's obviously an ambitious piece. Playing continuously, it is divided, somewhat lop-sidedly, into a 26-minute 'Allegro', an 'Adagio' of 5, a 4-minute 'Vivo' and an 'Adagio-Allegro' of 10. This live performance (31/08/2000) retains 35 seconds of applause included in the total timing.

Vibrantly orchestrated with plenty of percussion colour, there is an almost a filmic narrative underscoring this concerto, which in its brashness reminds of Khachaturian and, in its exotic lyricism, of Szymanowski. But Akses lacks any really distinctive ideas - excepting some motives that grab the attention - thus the concerto is sustained by an emotional outpouring, sometimes overwrought, that will engage listeners willing to sacrifice structural focus and musical profile for passionate declamation and orchestral drama.

Moments of repose, such as the short 'Adagio', bring welcome relief but, again, little that is compellingly inventive. Ultimately, while Akses pours himself into his music, this concerto relies too heavily on its fervent core and powerful atmosphere to make an impression.

CPO makes no claims for a first recording, which I presume it must be. The soloist has plenty to do - including two big cadenzas, their presence dictated by tradition I suggest - but little to say. Cihat Askin is totally committed to the cause backed to the hilt by Gokmen and the Hannover Philharmonic, which is not captured with ideal focus in quieter passages or in part-writing; the thickly-scored tuttis leave their mark though.

This is the only recording of Akses's Violin Concerto we will need - buy it now if a romantic wallow appeals.

Colin Anderson

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