3 dramatic musical tone poems inspired by
ancient Persia's epic poem Shahnameh.
This new release on Delos
International introduces important
music new to most American classical music lovers. Behzad
Ranjbaran, the composer, was born in
Tehran, Iran, in 1955. Well-educated musically during his childhood, he came to
the United States in 1974 and completed his studies at Indiana University and
the Juilliard School in New York where he is now on the faculty.
Even after thirty years in the United States
Ranjbaran's music remains infused with Persian modes, folk rhythms and
ornamental melodic figures. Critics have described it as "beautiful,"
"ravishing" with "radi-ant luminescence." "He plays the colors of the orchestra
with an unconscious mastery... with grace and ease."
His compositions include a Violin Concerto, a Cello
Concerto and other large scale vocal and orchestral works. He has received many
awards from various Art Councils, the National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP and
the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Ranjbaran composed the three orchestral works
featured on this new Delos CD under the title "Persian Trilogy" over a period of
eleven years. All three were inspired by stories from Shahnameh, the Book of Kings, the great Persian
epic poem written by legendary Persian poet Ferdowsi (c.940-c.1020). This
ancient saga, 60,000 verses in length, incorporates legends and mythology from
the creation of the world to Persia's conquest by Arab conquerors in the 7th
century CE. Even today it is considered one of the most significant works in
Ranjbaran used three episodes from this epic as
the basis for his music. First came Seemorgh,a tone poem in three movements
describing the fabulous magical bird Seemorgh (which we know as the Phoenix) her
involvement with humankind and the natural elements surrounding her: the
mountain, the moonlight and the sunrise.
Next came The Blood of
Seyavash, conceived as a ballet in seven movements,
relating the story of Prince Seyavash as young prince and heir, his seduction
and betrayal, his trial by fire, his tormented loy-alties, the seeds of envy,
his idyllic love, and the prophecies fulfilled.
The final work of the Trilogy, Seven Passages, derives its inspiration from an
episode in Shahnameh titled The Seven Trials of Rostam. The principal hero of
the poem is Rostam, who spends much of his lifetime fighting on behalf of the
Persian kings. Seven Passages refers to seven
encounters Rostam undergoes while traveling to rescue the king, Kavus, and his
countrymen, from an enemy territory where they have been imprisoned. Rostam's
heroic struggle and all its pain, tragedy, self doubt, joy and ultimate victory are reflected in this vivid piece which also
incorporates elements from the other two compositions in the
Ranjbaran's music throughout the Trilogy is almost
cinematic in its descriptive flow. Although tight-ly structured, it projects a
highly dramatic series of musical pictures utilizing the entire orchestra and
making virtuosic demands on all the orchestral soloists. This is music of today,
saturated in rich exotic melody, harmonically adventurous, yet highly
Ranjbaran proves as adept at musical storytelling as
the legendary Sheherazade. His visions of Persia are as mesmerizing to us as
hers were to her fascinated lover.
Two of the three pieces were premiered in 1993
and 2000 by the adventurous Long Beach, California Symphony conducted by the
dynamic JoAnn Falletta. The third, The Blood of
Seyavash, originally com-missioned as a ballet score,
was first given by the Nashville Ballet in 1994.
All three compositions have now been reunited for
this recording. The conductor is the same as at the two Long Beach premieres,
JoAnn Falletta, known for her enthusiastic advocacy of contemporary music, and
are performed on our Delos recording by the London Symphony Orchestra,
recognized as one of the finest orchestras in Europe.
To know more about the composer, his music and the
Trilogy, log on to www.behzadranjbaran.com.
"I have come to realize that in real life, courageous
acts are not limited only to heroes. Unsung heroes perform countless acts of
courage and struggle daily." - Behzad Ranjbaran
BEHZAD RANJBARAN: PERSIAN TRILOGY
LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA