Without Borders. Bartók, Mitropoulos, Saygun, Enescu. Can Çakmur, piano. © 2022 BIS Records AB

CD Spotlight

A Pianist who Deserves Attention

GEOFF PEARCE enjoys listening to Can Çakmur

'... a stellar performance by this fine young pianist.'


This very interesting CD features the fine young Turkish pianist Can Çakmur [pronounced: Djahn Tchakmur], who shows considerable bravura and virtuosity in his playing, but also considerable depth as an artist. The late nineteenth century saw a rise in nationalism, but also an interest in folk music. All the composers on this disc are represented here by music that is certainly derived from their interest in folk music, but which is not nationalistic.

The first work, Bartók's Sonata, Sz 80, was composed in 1926 and is in three movements. The first movement displays the percussive nature of the piano, whilst the second is slower and somewhat mournful, whereas the last is lively and filled with dance-like Bulgarian rhythms. The work receives a fine performance here and the playing is full of contrast and attention to detail.

Listen — Bartók: Allegro molto (Piano Sonata, BB 88, Sz 80, 1926)
(BIS-2630 track 3, 2:44-3:28) ℗ 2022 BIS Records AB :

The Passacaglia, Intermezzo e Fuga by Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) was composed in 1924. In earlier compositions, this composer wrote with Greek Nationalism in mind, but this later work turned away from this, perhaps driven by the criticism of some of his more nationalist works by Busoni, with whom he had been studying. This is a much more austere work, and did not gain much admiration from the public. Shortly afterwards, the composer all but abandoned composition, emerging as a world famous conductor.

The opening passacaglia is slow and brooding, and has a feel of cool aloofness. There are places of rising tension, but they feel almost structural rather than passionate. The intermezzo is fairly stormy and driven, but it seems as if the work is deliberately held back, so as not to overwhelm. The final fugue is the most passionate of the movements and, for me, is perhaps the most enjoyable of the three sections.

Listen — Mitropoulos: Fuga (Passacaglia, Intermezzo e Fuga, 1924)
(BIS-2630 track 6, 0:59-1:57) ℗ 2022 BIS Records AB :

The next work is by a compatriot of the pianist, Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991). This Op 76 Piano Sonata is the composer's final work, completed a few days before he died. Saygun was one of the first composers from Turkey sent to Paris to study and attempt to fuse elements of Turkish music with European elements. Whilst I have heard of this composer before, I was not familiar with this work. I was pleased to make the acquaintance of this music, and found it colourful and enjoyable. There is considerable contrast in each of the four movements, and I hope that it finds wide acceptance in the piano repertoire. I especially enjoyed the very introspective and slow third movement, which I find reveals the influence of folk music the strongest. (Saygun did accompany Bartók on a field trip in 1936 to gather folk music examples in Turkey.)

Listen — Saygun: Lento (Piano Sonata Op 76, 1990)
(BIS-2630 track 9, 4:08-5:07) ℗ 2022 BIS Records AB :

The final work here is the three-movement Piano Sonata No 3 in D major, Op 24 No 3, of George Enescu (1881-1955), which has long fascinated me. It receives a stellar performance by this fine young pianist. This is a magnificent piece in which elements of folk music are definitely present, but do not dominate the work. I have always felt that Enescu's value has been somewhat underestimated by audiences and certainly I appreciate the dedication that Can Çakmur has taken with this work. The only other recordings of this work I have heard are by Dinu Lipatti and Cristian Petrescu, and this performance is certainly their equal.

Listen — Enescu: Allegro con spirito (Piano Sonata Op 76, 1933-5)
(BIS-2630 track 13, 6:48-7:47) ℗ 2022 BIS Records AB :

The programme notes, written by the pianist, are comprehensive enough to explain the choice of works on this CD and the recording quality is very good. The performances themselves reveal a pianist who has an impressive technique and a musicianship and attention to detail that will serve this young man well in his performing career. He is certainly a pianist who deserves attention. If you want piano music that is both interesting, and most of it unfamiliar to the wider public, this is a CD to purchase. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Copyright © 9 August 2022 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia










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