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 Persian literature.
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 trilogy.
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 listenable.
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
Seven Passages (13:39)
The Mountain (5:55)
The Moonlight (8:28)
The Sunrise (7:44)
The Blood of Seyavash [42:28]
The Young Prince and Heir (9:14)
Seduction by Betrayal (6:51)
Trial by Fire (4:11)
Tormented Loyalties (5:03)
Seeds of Envy (4:16)
Idyllic Love (5:22)
Prophecy Fulfilled (7:31)
TOTAL PLAYING TIME: 78:21
Producer: Michael Fine
Engineer: Jonathan Allan, Abbey Road Remote
Recorded at St. Luke's, London, September 2003
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