Review By Allen Gimbel, American Record Guide,November 2010
Music for strings mostly from the 80s by Iranian Behzad Ranjbaran (b. 1955). Now teaching at Juilliard, where he earned his doctorate, Ranjbaran made an impressive splash with his excellent Persian Trilogy, the three romantic, exotic tone poems dating from 1991, 1994, and 2000, (Delos 3336, M/A 2005).
Review By Raymond Tuttle , Fanfare,November 2010
Behzad Ranjbaran (b.1955) was born in Tehran, and came to the United States in 1974 to study at Indiana University. After receiving his doctorate from Juilliard in composition (he studied with Diamond, Schwantner, and Persichetti), he became a faculty member there. I confess his name was not familiar to me before this CD arrived in the mail, but perhaps it should have been. Among his recent accomplishments is a piano concerto that was premiered in 2008 by Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano. Joshua Bell premiered his Violin Concerto in 2003. Furthermore, this is the second all-Ranjbaran CD to be released. Delos released his Persian Trilogy in 2003; the performers are JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra. That disc received a
Indeed, an appreciation for the more progressive ideas in 20th-century classical music is not a prerequisite for enjoying this disc. If you can groove to Bartók or early Lutoslawski, you’ll be fine. And this CD is time well spent. Ranjbaran has something interesting and appealing to say, and he knows how to say it.
Ranjbaran began playing the violin as a child, and so it is not surprising that strings dominate this CD, and that he writes well for them. Also, I am guessing that he is a popular faculty member at Juilliard, because the booklet notes that he has written for this CD are engaging. He writes that Awakening, a work for string ensemble, “commemorates the triumph of peace over war and violence.” The three interconnected sections are almost self-explanatory in their treatment of “the agony and horror of war,” the contemplative “struggle within individuals,” and “optimism.” Ranjbaran even includes a bit of “eye music” in the score itself—an arch-like “Arc de Triomphe … to represent the triumph of peace over conflict.” This is reprinted in the booklet. The Moto Perpetuo is, again, self-explanatory, and features dynamic, harmonically intriguing writing for the solo violin and strings. One feels hints of the composer’s Persian heritage in this and other pieces, but also the influence of his studies with American mentors.
The Elegy for Cello and Strings is an arrangement from the composer’s aforementioned Cello Concerto. Ranjbaran writes that it was influenced by the melodic figures of Persian vocal music, and that is clearly heard in the cello’s song. The music moves forward with a grave, beautiful dignity, reaching an emotional but restrained climax. Nicely done. Ole Akahoshi’s tone could use a little more juice, but the performance is more than adequate. The Elegy for Strings would have profited frmore....