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Work of the week – Fazil Say: Violin concerto

On 16 February 2018, Fazil Say’s Violin Concerto can be heard in a special production at the Astana Ballet Theatre in Kazakhstan. This will be the Kazakh premiere of the concerto and is part of Salome, a ballet themed evening with the Astana Ballet and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arman Urazgaliyev.

Say’s Violin concerto: 1001 nights in the harem was composed in 2007 to a commission from the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Say composed the work for the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who gave the premiere in Lucerne in 2008 with conductor John Axelrod. The concerto was first used for a ballet in 2016 in a production of Scheherazade at Mainfranken Theater Würzburg, where it was paired with Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite of the same name.  

“1001 nights in the harem”: Music that dances

Say’s music is particularly suitable for dance because of its roots in traditional Turkish music with its strongly accentuated rhythms, the uneven time signatures and heavy use of Turkish percussion instruments offering exciting opportunities for choreographers. Say described the second movement of the concerto as a “party night with different kinds of dance music.” The work is based on the well-known “Tales of the Arabian Nights”, which influenced its atmosphere and structure.

“In fitting with a Middle Eastern soundscape, the orchestration includes many Turkish percussion instruments. But it is the solo violin that tells the story and leads the piece. The violin part is very virtuosic and it connects the four movements to an atmospheric unity with its solo cadenzas between the different movements, sometimes accompanied by a percussion instrument.” – Fazil Say

Further works particularly suited to choreography can be found in our Ballet Catalogue, which can be downloaded below.