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Blair Anderson, November 2011

Perhaps most surprising and daring is Ince’s Concerto for orchestra, Turkish instruments, and voices (2002, revised 2009), which fairly explodes off the CD from its percussive beginning. In this work, Ince demonstrates his ease with blending unusual and conventional tone colors, including folk instruments and a chorus, and produces an exciting concerto that is as original as it is unexpected. Ince leads the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra in all the performances but one, where he performs as soloist in the Piano Concerto, which is conducted by Isin Metin. The extraordinary timbres that Ince calls for are vividly created by the musicians, and the clear and resonant audio of the recording makes them sound distinct and fully present. Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Fanfare, November 2011

In some ways, Ince’s music resembles high-quality film music. (In fact, he has composed film scores.) It is both visceral and visual. Overall, though, there’s a sincere passion here that, for many listeners, should sweep aside questions about whether or not this music is “important,” in the academic sense.

…the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra is a very capable ensemble. Ince clearly has definite ideas about how his music should be performed, and as far as I can tell, is able to bring them to fruition here. Brilliant engineering, essential in music like this, has been provided. If you’re looking for a thrill, this CD will supply it.

Jack Sullivan
American Record Guide, November 2011

This recording presents bold, colorful music by the Turkish-American composer, Kamran Ince, who has recorded three other discs for Naxos. I knew I was in for a wild ride when I saw in the notes that Symphony 2 and the Concerto for Orchestra, the opening works, represent the composer’s “more patient and mature” side. Having been knocked out of my chair by the time I read this, I couldn’t imagine what the impatient side was like.

…Ince gets deeply into Turkish traditional music, presenting it from the inside out. He has an uncanny ability to meet the rawness of this aesthetic on its own terms and create ways to put it into a Western symphonic context without compromising its wailing grandeur. Subtlety is not his strong point—one must accept a fair amount of literal repetition and raucous sonority—but Ince’s sense of dramatic structure makes the adjustment possible for people who are open to something bold and new.

His cause is helped by the Bilkent Symphony, which plays with amazing energy and abandon, and the Youth Chorus, which offers striking vocal colors. Let yourself go, and you’ll get lost in this music.

The earlier Piano Concerto and Infrared Only, from 1984 and 85, turned out to be as feverish as the notes promise…Ince unleashes the full force of Western orchestral technology and Lisztian piano pyrotechnics. Unhinged and dreamlike as they are, both pieces have decisive inner structures; they really go somewhere, the concerto arriving in a firm D major, Infrared also concluding in D but with a G added to give the ending an fascinating Eastern tang.

What ties this earlier music to the later offerings is a reliance on repeating blocks of sound, ominous pedals, heavy timpani, and pulsating colors. The Piano Concerto is a workout for the soloist; Ince himself, obviously a gifted pianist, plunges fearlessly into his own thicket of technical challenges. Infrared Only is a bit more predictable in its pounding ostinatos and hymn-like cantilenas than the concerto, but it’s fun to hear the brass and drums of the Bilkent Symphony showing their chops, especially in Naxos’s brilliant recording from Ankara, Turkey.

Not to be missed, but hold onto your seat, check your speakers, turn down the volume a bit, and wait until the neighbors are away.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2011

Kamran Ince was born in the United States in 1960, but it was his formative years spent in Turkey that has shaped and influenced much of his compositional career. In reviewing a previous Naxos disc of his works, I described them as having that ‘modern commerciality’ much in demand. The persistent and high impact rhythms heard in the opening movement of the Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments and Voices being characteristic of his work. It readily fits into the world of the minimalists, but here enriched with sumptuous orchestral sounds, the use of four traditional Turkish instruments and a wordless vocal group adding a new and interesting dimension. The high volume of the outer movements carries a shock and awe ingredient that continues into the opening of the Second Symphony, ‘Fall of Constatinople’. In five highly descriptive movements it relates the fall of the Byzantine capital in 1453 and the battles that took place, the final movement a gigantic orchestral outburst. It seems that war has also been declared between the soloist and orchestra in the Piano Concerto. Composed in 1984 when Ince was twenty-four, it was the score that brought him to international attention. In one movement it is built of blocks, at times like giant icebergs colliding, but once heard it would hard to forget the experience. One year later Infrared Only is a proactive orchestral tour de force that hammers home its message. One can only admire the Bilkent Symphony who despatch some mighty climatic moments, Ince becoming the soloist in the Concerto, but elsewhere is the conductor. Decibel meters must have been often glowing red-hot, but the engineers have coped well with the enormous dynamic range.

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