İDSO's night in the gardens of Spain, Peyroux's İKSV gig
İstanbul State Symphony Orchestra (İDSO) performed a Spanish program on Nov. 16 at the Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center with music by Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados and Georges Bizet, conducted by Spanish maestro José Miguel Rodilla. Two soloists, soprano Hande Soner and pianist Gülsin Onay, were on hand to perform Falla's "El Amor Brujo" (Magic Love) and "Nights in the Gardens of Spain," respectively.

Both soloists injected the temperament and tonal colors one would expect to hear in this repertoire, including visual aids. With big flowers in their hair, both were dressed in flamenco style garb -- especially Onay's turquoise and white checkered-print gown with pink-edged ruffles twisting around the skirt. Fashion notwithstanding, they both brought life and energy to an otherwise staid performance by the orchestra. Rodilla's treatment of Bizet's "Carmen Suite" (based on themes from the opera "Carmen") was clean and careful, but too careful for my taste. Each of the five sections was played like perfect miniatures that had somehow severed their relationship from each other. They needed some of Carmen's cigar smoke blowing through the music.

Onay's spirited pianism in Falla's "Gardens" sparked everything with fuel and flame, and Soner's chest-voice bravura in the difficult "Brujo" songs (they should be sung less like classical music and more like flamenco) brought plenty of Andalusian soul to the vocal solos among the all-too carefully executed instrumental sections. The famous orchestral "Ritual Fire Dance" didn't even break out a sweat. Both of these colorful compositions, especially because of Falla's wonderful orchestrations, paint striking and urgently emotional portraits. Rodilla's flaccid account of Granados' bittersweet "Intermezzo" from "Goyescas" needed a flourish of Onay's dress and a dollop of Soner's fire.

Adapter: art you can listen to

The Icelandic group Adapter returned to Borusan Music House on Nov. 14 to play music by "S.L.Á.T.U.R.," which is an acronym for Young Progressive Composers of Iceland. Evidently the word which the acronym spells out also means "sausage" in Icelandic, which might set us up for hearing meaty music, but the nine pieces on their program were more like watching delicate plants grow. In fact, some of them reminded me of a scene in an old French film where a group of people stand around a piano player in a transfixed state to watch him or her play.

The music of the young composers was akin to a curious installation of sound-art, although one folk-oriented piece by an older composer, Atli Heimir Sveinsson, his "Intermezzo I and II" for flute and harp, took the listeners through very melodic terrain. Sveinsson and his compatriot Borkell Sigurbjörnsson were both born in 1938, so they don't qualify for the above-mentioned group, but they are important Icelandic composers. Oddly, the latter's piece, "Kalais for solo flute" was one of the more avant-garde.

Kristjana Helgadóttir's continuous performing, as both flutist and percussionist in six pieces, held the spotlight with surety. Her colleagues, harpist Gunnhildur Einarsdóttir, percussionist Matthias Engler and clarinetist Ingólfur Vilhjálmsson had a field day playing with fun toys like a wind tube, bubblewrap, a Vietnamese dan boa, an Icelandic langspil, little sticks on strings, and various electro-acoustic devices. Clever compositions by seven younger composers used these sounds to create otherworldly séances, including two videos.

The most intriguing composition was Jesper Pedersen's "Bottleneck." The four performers each held long strings tied to plastic bottles of different sizes. A video screen above them flashed red and green shapes to indicate which hand to throw up in the air to make the bottles bounce on the floor. It was art you can listen to.

Madeleine Peyroux at Salon İKSV

No one can slur together so many notes on one word like singer Madeleine Peyroux. Her combination of American Southern blues style and her channeling of Billie Holiday's last days produce the kind of boozy vocalism that spans the entire list of vowel combinations. Her gig at Salon İKSV on Nov. 17 was fraught with enough obstacles to make anyone slur a few words.

She used that distinctive style in a long set of covers and originals, including her famous version of Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love." Though most songs tended to sound somewhat alike, at least in tempo, she maintained variety by switching around her accompaniment styles with her trio of musicians, or taking solos with her own guitar accompaniment. Most affecting was her version of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight."

But that song was allowed to be affecting for us because of the way she handled the crowd. During the first four or five songs, the audience rudely chatted and texted while she sang. Then she suddenly said: "So what are you all talking about? Could you stop talking, or leave?" Then a voice in the balcony shouted: "And turn off those bloody cellphones!" Duly chastised, the audience was finally silent and attentive.

As a result, we were able to hear Peyroux's unique ways of treating the heartbreaking texts she specializes in. The more vulnerable moments were interspersed with some down-home folksiness, especially by Gary Versace's blazing technique on the Hammond organ, giving us that authentic good-time gospel flavor -- until the instrument suddenly malfunctioned, rising a half-step up by itself in the middle of a number. He skillfully swung over to the grand piano, mid-song, and continued playing.

Peyroux's off-hand, improvisatory stage manner is a departure from the slickly choreographed and silly joke-telling that many performers feel obliged to do on tour. She's nakedly herself, almost to the point of appearing unprepared for what to do next. Without the fancy trappings of show-biz, the songs are her only clothing, her identity, and her reason for being. "I'm always walkin' after midnight, searchin' for somebody who's searchin' for me," still rings in my ears.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-20 20:00:01
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