About this Recording
8.557588 - INCE, K.: Symphony No. 3, "Siege of Vienna" / Symphony No. 4, "Sardis" (Prague Symphony, Ince)
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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/Turkish parents. Growing up in Turkey (1966-80), he trained at the Ankara and Izmir State Conservatories (theory, cello, piano), before returning to America to work with Samuel Adler, David Burge, Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner at Oberlin and the Eastman School of Music (gaining his doctorate). Formerly Composerin- Residence with the California Symphony (1991-93), he is Professor of Composition at the University of Memphis, Co-Director of the Dr Erol Üçer Center for Advanced Music Research (MIAM), Istanbul Technical University, and Founder-Director of the Istanbul Modern Music Ensemble.

Written mainly to commission, Kamran Ince’s predominantly instrumental catalogue embraces symphonies, concertos, chamber music and scores for ballet and film. His music expresses the topography of a country which stretches from the High Taurus to the Caucasus, the Aegean to the Mediterranean and Black Sea, ‘a fantastical jumble of mountains, deserts, plains and ocean’, as one commentator has described Ince’s muscular, primeval, neo-romantic style. But there is also a quality about it that is very American, the untamed America of the wild, open spaces of the Montana of the first six years of his boyhood.

Principal inland trading-post on the road to the Orient, Ferdinand and Leopold’s Vienna stood at the frontier between Europe and the ‘Turkes’, Christianity and Islam. The Ottomans laid siege to the Habsburgs twice – under Süleyman the Magnificent in 1529 and Mehmet IV in 1683. Against expectations neither attempt succeeded. The lighter spoils of war, on the other hand, did – ‘Turkish music’, coffee, croissants symbolic of the ‘Great Flag of Mahommed’ – ensuring the old lion from the East would never be forgotten. The Third Symphony, Siege of Vienna (September 1994 - March 1995) was commissioned by the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The orchestral forces are notably substantial, including an extensive percussion battery, piano, synthesizer and electric bass guitar. Exceptionally, there are passages also for a quartet of Wagner tubas – which instruments, courtesy of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, we decided to retain in the present recording, dispensing with the horns otherwise indicated in the score. Using material, Ince says, that is ‘a synthesis of West and East […] a meeting of 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 the Inhabitants of the Earth, and of the Earthly Paradise […] Lord of all the Emperours of the World, from the rising of the Sun to the going down thereof, King of all Kings, Lord of the Tree of Life […] I will make my self your Master, pursue you from East to West, and extend my Majesty to the end of the Earth’ (The Great Turks Declaration of War Against the Emperour of Germany, 20th February 1683).

II City under Siege [second movement, A]. The thrust and parry of attack … raining fire … scattered lives 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 1683 the Ottomans, taking no prisoners, were a mere 450 paces away, the sultan’s elite Janissary corps even closer.

IV Forgotten Souls [third movement]. A Homeric requiem for the forsaken, lamenting ‘the bloody business of the day’. The third and fifth sections focus on a harmonically static cloud of 86 briskly rising and falling Aeolian scales, combined with a varied version of the opening section’s scale melody – scene-painting suggestive of the ‘Prayers and Tears of a Cast-down and Mournful People,’ the ‘Fire Works’ of Islam racing the horizon like zephyrs across the sky.

V Calls [fourth movement, A]. War Signal. Call to Prayer – ‘like imams calling in close but different locations,’ imagines Ince, ‘all a little out of sync’.

VI Final Assault [fourth movement, B]. Sunday 12th September 1683. Sunrise, ‘hot Skirmishes’. Afternoon, ‘fierce heat’. Fighting ‘from ridge to valley […] valley to ridge’. Charge of Sobieski’s Polish cavalry from the heights of Kahlenberg.

VII Victorious City [fourth movement, C]. No bells but raucous, triumphant Lydian ‘Polish’ whoops alternating with falling ‘Teuton’ bass fourths as the enemy is put to flight, ‘leaving the Plunder of their Camp behind them’.

VIII The Great Retreat [finale]. What vanquished men on the Danube-Balkans road ‘must have felt marching 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, was commissioned by the California Symphony. An organically inter-related nocturne of dipping suspension-bridge design, the mood throughout, Ince writes, is of ‘spiritual obsessiveness, ever descending lines searching for something, trying to feel what they are 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’s Fourth Symphony, Sardis (July 1999-July 2000) was commissioned by Crawford H Greenewalt Jr, Director of Excavations at the Sardis site north-east of Ephesus (Harvard-Cornell Expedition). Commanding the corridor to the Anatolian Plateau, Sardis (present-day Sart) dates from the Bronze Age. Capital of Lydia in the first millennium BC, it was besieged and plundered by the Persians c546 BC, becoming subsequently the western terminus of the ‘Royal Road’ to Susa. Later it surrendered to Alexander the Great. Important as a pulpit of early Christianity (one of the ‘Seven Churches of Asia’ addressed in Revelation), sheltering a privileged Jewish community, it came under the Arabs in 716 before passing into Turkish hands around the eleventh century.

I Hermus River. Palaeolithic man walked here, the Hittites too. Ince gives us slow, circular, ‘very free’, dynamically rising and falling modal music, the string players murmuring as they bow their notes.

II Necropol. More than a thousand rock-cut Lydian tombs are found in the valley hills of the gold-bearing Pactolus overlooking the twin-standing columns of the Temple of Artemis, mother goddess of Hellenistic Asia Minor.

III Acropol. A craggy, weathered peak defining the city’s high outline. The movement includes two largescale incursions - the second using ritualistic repetitions and thunderous, flaying bass-drum double-attacks to create an enveloping sense of the mightily wheeling ‘chariots and armoured footmen of Lydia’ recalled by Sappho.

IV Thousand Hills. To the north lies the royal burial ground of the Lydian kings – a ‘strange lunar landscape […] where a hundred earthen cones [tumuli], simulating nature’s hills, commemorate human vanity’ (Greenewalt Jr).

V Tmolus Mountain. ‘Holy Tmolus’ was sacred to Cybele, goddess of Sardis. Twice Ince tackles the massif – jagged, stabbing tutti chords edged in the dissonances of storm lightning. Twice an oboe returns – ‘an idée fixe representing the mountain’s grandness and eternity’. The faster central section, a long dynamic ascent with recessed solo violin, is an Ivesian tumult. In the coda the high repeated As of the final clause remember Necropol to the call of cicadas beneath the last star of dawn.

Ates¸ Orga

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