About this Recording
8.579023 - TAFRESHIPOUR, A.M.: Persian Echoes / Lucid Dreams / Yearning in C (Dall'Olio, English Chamber Orchestra, Rahbari)

Amir Mahyar TAFRESHIPOUR (b. 1974)
Persian Echoes • Alas • Lucid Dreams • Yearning in C


Persian Echoes
Concerto for harp and orchestra

Persian Echoes was completed during December 2005 in Corwen, North Wales, in response to a commission from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, but the work had its genesis in Tehran. I visited the city of Kermanshah in the west of Iran where there are beautiful and intricate carvings of harps from the Sasanid era (224–651 AD). My intention was not to compose an exotic piece simply with the use of Eastern melodies, but rather a work which weaves together sounds associated with Persian traditional music combined with Western classical music. My early childhood in Iran left me with a deep feeling for sounds which are specifically Persian, but I was also fortunate to be involved at quite a young age with Western classical music.

One aspect of Persian Echoes is the use of Homayoun, one of the seven Persian traditional (dastgah) modes, and it is fascinating to see how well this mode works on the harp. Persian traditional music is very much improvised, so the first movement starts with a passage for solo harp which has an improvisatory character, before the piece gains a more structured form. The first movement is based on the Homayoun mode and the theme which runs throughout the whole movement always refers back to the note B, a note from this mode. The first movement has a feeling of anguish; at times anger and frustration also come to the fore as sudden loud chords on the harp interrupt. The end, however, is more conciliatory as it returns to solo harp notes before finishing unresolved.

The second movement is more a picture of ancient Persia and has a sense of quiet sadness, perhaps the feeling of loss for a forgotten empire. The movement begins with a theme played by the strings which the harp then takes over in a more florid and extended way. A passage for string quartet recaptures feelings I had while recollecting the past, and another section uses pizzicati in the strings and harmonics in the harp, capturing a breathtaking silence I once experienced while visiting Persepolis. Elsewhere, the string counterpoint towards the end may evoke the struggles of contemporary life in Iran, and then, finally, feelings of sadness, loneliness and loss return with tremolos in the harp.

The third movement captures the lively spirit of Persia, and makes use of the strong rhythmic elements found in Persian folk music. Persians’ great sense of fun and their capacity to remain positive is shown here in fast accented clusters and short rhythmic glissandi on the harp. The central part recalls a slow Persian dance, which leads into the harp cadenza. Finally the harp brings the music back to the faster folk pattern of the opening; percussion, then strings, join in and the music gathers momentum before ending in a festive spirit.

Quintet in two movements for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano

The idea for composing a quintet came from the deserted landscape of Kavir e Lut in central Iran, a vast land in which the only music is total silence. Alas is based on Persian traditional music. The main motive is derived from Ḥeṣār Gushe, a modulatory Gusheh, or central Iranian melody, from the basic scalar pattern of Cahārgāh. This underlying musical idea forms a monophonic line which runs throughout the work, sometimes concealed in a rich chord. Like links in a chain, contrasting musical segments of oriental tinted monody and chordal density converge, to produce a gently flowing stream of music. Alas is dedicated to the Danish composer Mogens Christensen.

Lucid Dreams
Trio for harp, violin and cello

From its very beginning Lucid Dreams expresses a free spirit of exploration. The form is rhapsodic and only during the development does the music sometimes seem like a more directed improvisation. The extemporising of the harp also adds to the music’s Eastern flavour.

Yearning in C

Yearning in C circulates around the note C and this remains the driving force of the entire composition, a canvas full of small collages. The ornamentation around the musical skeleton is always improvisatory, often disappearing into silence to leave space for the listener’s imagination. The dark tone colours are all ideas from childhood memories in Scandinavia and the impression of light and dark across the different seasons.

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