Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour isn’t the first composer to meld his cultural musical heritage into classical composition. And he does so as convincingly as Dvorak, Bartok, or De Falla (in his own style, of course).
Tafreshipour said this of Persian Echoes, his harp concerto: “My intention was not to compose an exotic piece simply with the use of Eastern melodies, but rather a work which weaves together sounds associated with Persian traditional music combined with Western classical music.”
And he succeeds. The Persian modes he uses gives the work a strong ethnic identity. Yet the structure and use of those modes build on Western art music traditions. It’s a fluid work that takes the listener on an engaging journey of discovery.
Alas for chamber quintet also uses traditional Persian motives. In this case, though, the overall sound is more Western — and more academic. The oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano pop in and out with little fragments that occasionally grind against each other. It’s not a bad work — just one that sits in stark contrast to the tonal harp concerto that precedes it.
Lucid Dreams, for harp violin and cello, is similar in style to Alas. It has a rhapsodic, dream-like quality to it.
There’s little chance Yearning in C will be confused with Terry Riley’s In C. And yet both share the same basic idea. Start on C, and use it as an anchor throughout the work. Tafreshipour’s concept eschew’s driving rhythms for an unfolding of the music that that seems to ebb and flow.
The four works on this release present several sides of Amir Tafreshipour’s style. Whether his music is consonant or dissonant, it always retains a trace of his Middle Eastern heritage. And that blend makes his a unique and interesting compositional voice.
Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour:
Persian Echoes (Concerto for Harp and Orchestra);
Alas; Lucid Dreams; Yearning in C
Gabriella Dall’Olio, harp
English Chamber Orchestra; Alexander Rahbari, conductor
Crash Ensemble; Darragh Morgan, violin