Two Anatolian Tunes
That said, the concision and focus of Özkan Manav’s Two Anatolian Dances that followed made Brahms’ waltzes seem needlessly long-winded. My Turkish colleagues vouched for the authenticity of the Manav’s folk idiom, but you don’t need to know the culture to enjoy this music. Manav is more experimental than Brahms in the relationships he proposes between the two players. For example, the work opens and closes with the secondo (Schuch) placing one hand on the piano strings while playing a muffled bass line with the other, providing a contrasting texture to the less inhibited dance melodies above. The music’s generally stable tonality is often compromised by radical bitonal shifts between the two parts – another playful divergence. Similar rhythmic interactions also complicate the relationship, though again, the players usually return to more unified textures after a few phrases.
Schubert provided the closing numbers, his substantial Fantasia in F Minor, D. 940, and “Lebensstürme” Allegro in A Minor, D. 947. The acoustic of the jazz club venue was a little dry for such opulent, melodic music, but Ensari and Schuch gave the textures sufficient weight and substance to fill the hall. However, as with the Brahms, it was hard to escape the feeling that this grand master of the classical tradition could have learned a thing or two from Manav. Schubert’s melodies are beautiful, of course, but he repeats them too often. Still, the players here compensated by highlighting the constantly changing textures beneath (and occasionally above) to maintain the interest.
Backtrack, 10 June 2017
Istanbul Music Festival
The second part was no less energetic: Cem Mansur has presented the German first performance of Haydar Haydar by Turkish composers Ali Ekber Çiçek and Ali Özkan Manav. It is a fast, powerful piece that shifts between classicist coquetry and oriental epics. Here, too, the brass players and, above all, the percussions were exemplary at the high tempo.
[Der zweite Teil wirkt nicht weniger energetisch: Cem Mansur präsentiert die deutsche Erstaufführung „Haydar Haydar“ der türkischen Komponisten Ali Ekber Çiçek und Ali Özkan Manav. Es ist ein schnelles, wuchtiges Stück, das zwischen klassizistischer Koketterie und orientalischer Epik wandelt. Auch hier werden die Blechbläser und vor allem die umtriebigen Schlagzeuger beansprucht, die dem hohen Tempo vorbildlich gerecht werden.]
Der Tagesspiegel, 29 August 2017
Turkish music was represented by Ali Özkan Manav’s magnificent rhapsody on Ali Ekber Çiçek’s song Haydar Haydar, receiving its first performance. There was no hint of ‘cross-over’, amorphous ‘world music’ or contrived tokenism here, rather the song was transformed into a dazzlingly virtuosic modern orchestral showcase.
12 September 2017
In the second part of the evening, the Turkish folk song Haydar Haydar –which was composed by the Turkish composer Ali Ekber Çicek (1935-2006) and reworked by Ali Özkan Manav (*1967) for the modern orchestra– was performed after a break. And I have to say that both have done it perfectly and so wonderfully in the song interpreted by the orchestra. We heard a really lively and very contemporary dynamic composition which was very modern and did not fit with the works of other contemporary European or world composers. It was a powerful and refreshing experience for me which the other listeners appreciated with a warm, long-lasting applause.
website article (in Czech)
2 September 2017
Three Turkish Folk Songs (Turkish Music for Cello and Piano – Naxos 9.70236)
Following Saygun’s work, his student Manav’s 21st century “transcription” of three Turkish folk songs achieves a wonderful ironic transition. As a different example of replacing archaic idioms with modern expressions, the soloists, isolating it from its “original” context, present the work in a search for different colours. Thanks to the musical efforts of Dilbağ Tokay and Emine Serdaroğlu, we are able to see the search for timbral variety in the piano at the end of Ah Bir Ateş Ver (O, Give Me Fire) and the way in which the apparent folkloric beginning of Al Tavandan Belleri (Take the Spades from the Ceiling) gives way step by step to contemporary expression. Leblebi (Roasted Chickpeas), the final movement of the work, is an exciting performance.
Andante, March 2016, issue 113
Three Turkish Folk Songs
A couple of nights later an interesting contrast to the concentrate of the Estonian music was offered by cellist Andreas Lend and Turkish pianist Hande Dalkılıç, who, among other pieces, performed in their solo evening the compositions of Turkish composers Çetin Ișıközlü (1939), Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907–1991) and Özkan Manav (1967). The Three Folk Songs (“O, Give Me Fire”, “Take the Spades from the Ceiling” and “Roasted Chickpeas”) for cello and piano by Manav in its superbly fantastic and exciting performance was one of the brightest highlights of the entire festival.
website article (in Estonian)
Tallinn Chamber Music Festival
11 September 2015
Manav’s string quartet without any title had a lot to say, and I posit that it will become an important new addition to the string quartet repertoire. It’s a descriptive wonder, with movements titled “Echoes and Cicadas,” “Horon I and II” and “Serenata notturna.” He made it even more descriptive by having the cello’s lowest string tuned down even further as a drone pitch. All the better to add to the abstracted dance quality that emerged throughout this inspired mélange of rhythmically cohesive elements. The sonorities were further enhanced by all four players using guitar picks in one movement’s robust and aleatory pluck-fest. The first Horon is a movement that could be easily extracted and used as an encore selection, as it built a delightful frenzy like a steam engine to the end. Manav understands how to take seemingly disparate fragments and, with psychological savvy, construct an intriguing and satisfying whole.
Today’s Zaman, 8 February 2013
The second piece was Özkan Manav’s String Quartet… Well, anyone who say “I don’t understand classical music,” “I don’t and I cannot enjoy classical music” should listen it…
What a Black Sea music!..
When Sunay [Akın] took us to Maçka, we climb to Sümela, passing trees 40-50 metres tall. In a moment, I felt myself to be in that forest, surrounded by birdsongs…
It seems as if four birds are making music, rather than four string instruments. Then all at once, I found myself in a boat, tossed by the wild Black Sea waves… I could truly hear the waves striking the steep cliffs. At that moment the quartet is playing the Horon movement. It is as if there were four kemenches on the stage, not two violins, one viola and one cello.
The third movement is an amazement… Bows are placed on the floor… For the first time in my life I listened to a violin or a cello being played with a plectrum. That movement, without bows, was so striking… And also, the other Horon, bringing the wonderful final…
Sabah, 6 February 2013
Movement 6 (Listening to Istanbul – Seda Röder CD)
Manav knows very well how to arouse the interest of the listener, as with all his works. Here the composer takes us to 19th century Istanbul, to the musical world of Hacı Arif Bey. The piano’s high registers have to be tuned in advance, to allow an approximation of the sound of makams such as Uşşak, Neva and Hüzzam. The work takes the listener on a journey to a former world of calm and contemplation.
Manav is one of the most productive composers of his generation. He has great many awards and is one of our composers lucky enough to have had his works performed both at home and abroad.
http://filizali.blogspot.com, 18 October 2011
Movement 6 (Listening to Istanbul – Seda Röder CD)
Contemporary Turkish piano music is represented by five male and one female composers. For example, while the arabesques and a delicately-woven pulse resonates in Özkan Manav’s Movement 6…
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30 April 2011
Pigeons (Vibrations of Istanbul – Kalan CD 513)
The most beautiful of the compositions included on the CD is the opening piece by Özkan Manav, Pigeons. It is a contemporary Turkish work to admire. The feeling of unity achieved by the recurrences of the opening idea throughout the piece is wonderful. He has used the material at hand in the most economical way.
Andante, January 2011, issue 54
The pieces by Özkan Manav and Barış Perker especially showed the wide compass and the luster of the instrument. Perker’s “Seven Images of İstanbul” was richly resonant, and Manav’s highly energetic “Pigeons” fully exploited the harp’s capabilities.
Today’s Zaman, 5 January 2011
Özkan Manav’s “Laçin” used a Turkish melody to create an intensely rhapsodic experience using fragmented phrases for violin and cello, for which the piano’s full-blown accompaniment figures served as connective fiber. The hauntingly beautiful piece ended with a mysterious final pizzicato.
Today’s Zaman, 24 November 2011
Laçin (Refuge – Albany Records CD)
This is a most enjoyable and stimulating disc. Turkish composer Özkan Manav (b. 1967) studied with the well-known (although not well known enough) Turkish composer Saygun. His piece Laçin is based on an anonymous folk song, and is an attractive exploration of some of the theme’s potentialities.
Fanfare Magazine, July/August 2014
The second work, Özkan Manav’s Laçin, op. 18 is an original work written for a trio. As a result of having lived abroad for a long time, I was not aware of the number and quality of our composers from the 1970s. In fact, certain miserable people who assume the role of burying Atatürk’s Turkey are accustomed to saying “There aren’t any composers left in the country; the revolution has come to an end.” When we returned home, we saw that in fact the exact opposite is true.
Here, we have another talented composer of the generation born in the 60s, Özkan Manav. The most attractive feature of his trio is its clarity and the way in which he is constantly seeking color. Within this pursuit of color it is yet another work redolent of Anatolia. Congratulations to Özkan Manav!
As for Ali Özkan Manav, he has placed something different in his Sforzati: a joke. In many competitions great importance is attached to preserving strict anonymity; he has placed his name in the composition in Morse code. Moreover, the composition has more clearly defined boundaries and a more serious style than Collas’ Passacaglia. However, in this work, too, one does not notice the passing of time – the insistence on the structuring tremolos, the dialogue between the celesta and string instruments, between trumpets and many, many percussion instruments.
As if to answer the works of these two composers in their early thirties, the concert continued with Pierre Boulez’s Ritual – in memoriam Bruno Maderna dating from the seventies: an orchestral piece divided into eight parts, which cannot be combined into a single whole, but which remain as individual elements in a filigree work. And just as Manav incorporates silence into his Sforzati, so also does Boulez through the turning of the score pages. Again the pleasure given by these première works was really something else.
[Etwas anderes, einen Scherz baute Ali Özkan Manav in sein ,,Sforzati“ ein. Da bei vielen Wettbewerben die Einsendungen strikt anonym zu sein haben, orchestrierte er seinen Namen in Morsezeichen. Dennoch ist seine Komposition strenger, ernster als die Passacaglia Collas. Aber ähnlich kurzweilig – das Insistieren auf strukturierenden Tremoli, die Klangkorrespondenzen zwischen Celesta und Streichern, zwischen Trompeten und viel, viel Schlagwerk. / Als Kommentar zu den Werken der beiden Anfangdreißiger stand dann Pierre Boulez’ ,,Rituel – in memoriam Bruno Maderna“ aus den Siebzigern: ein Orchester, aufgeteilt in acht Gruppen, die sich wenig massieren, sondern filigranes Tableau in bewusster Gegensätzlichkeit bieten. Und so wie Manav die Stille in seinem „Sforzati“ komponiert, so tut dies Boulez mit dem Umblättern der Partiturseiten. Unterhaltsamer waren aber trotzdem die Uraufführungen.]
Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12 October 1999
Manav’s Sforzati was a process constructed of intersecting accentuations which condense and build up into a monumental tone-structure.
Is it owing to the masterly technique of the conductor Lucas Vis, who has at long last brought such unmissable contemporary music to the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra? The compositions and their interpretations in the Herkulessaal are raised to an exceptionally high level.
[Manavs ,,Sforzati“ beschrieben einen Prozess sich überkreuzender Akzentuierungen, die sich zu monumentalen Klangwänden verdichteten. / Lag es an der souveränen Schlagtechnik des Dirigenten Lucas Vis, dass sich die BR-Symphoniker endlich wieder mit hörbarem Engagement zeitgenössischer Musik annahmen? Die Kompositionen und deren Interpretationen hielten sich im Herkulessaal auf ausnehmend hohem Niveau die Waage.]
Abendzeitung München, 12 October 1999
… clusters appear and disappear where each part heads towards a different group of notes. A melodic element emerges at rehearsal number 21, coming from the first trombone; then the sustained sounds of the strings begin and then the long-drawn-out sounds of the wind instruments support the conclusion of the piece. In the last twelve measures the sounds of the two flutes, sustaining almost completely alone, offer a salvation from this infernal block composition.
It is an audacious work. It is the excess of a student, but so be it! In his three years in Boston the composer has explored how to shape that excessiveness into a “digestible”, balanced, measured proportion.
from associate professorship file report
29 November 2000
Manav’s work was praised above all by the jury for its ability to combine so effectively the subtly resonating elements of Turkish folk music with the techniques of contemporary music. In comparison with the dance rhapsody of Erkin written sixty years previously, the incorporation of folkloric elements has a completely different quality; they are not merely superficially perceptible, but artfully interwoven. The single-movement work is full of fantasy, with the alteration of tone colours, harmony and rhythm and goes with a solemn tempo, through which clear motifs such as a flute melody or the long signal of a trumpet emerge and, as dynamic high points, provide a formal structure to the piece. The moving effect of the music, of course, stems from the highly differentiated tones of the orchestra playing under the direction of the Azerbaijani conductor Ramiz Malik Aslanov.
[Manavs Werk wurde von den Juroren vor allem gelobt, weil es ihm eindrucksvoll gelungen sei, ,,subtil anklingende Elemente der türkischen Volksmusik mit den Mitteln zeitgenössischer Kompositionstechniken zu verarbeiten“. Im Vergleich zu der vor 60 Jahren geschriebenen Tanzrhapsodie Erkins hat die Einbeziehung folkloristischer Elemente hier tatsächlich eine ganz andere Qualität, sie werden nicht als Oberflächenreize spürbar, sondern kunstvoll eingewoben. Das einsätzige Werk spielt fantasievoll mit dem Changieren von Klangfarben, Harmonien und Rhythmen, schreitet in sehr getragenem Tempo voran, wobei markante Motive, wie etwa eine Flötenmelodie oder ein längeres Trompetensignal, das Stück formal ebenso strukturieren wie dynamische Höhepunkte. Dass die Musik berührte, lag natürlich auch an der klanglich sehr differenzierten Wiedergabe durch das Orchester, das unter der Leitung des aus Aserbaidschan stammenden Dirigenten Ramiz Malik Aslanov spielte.]
General-Anzeiger, 17 September 2002
Özkan Manav’s orchestral piece Portamento lento, which was commissioned by the Deutsche Welle, incorporated Anatolian folk music not merely as a quotation but particularly with idiomatic colourations in somewhat sedate gestures.
The work as performed for a CD recording by the Istanbul State Conservatory Orchestra was colourful, moreover unique, but at times somewhat monochromatic in terms of timbre. It was an interesting and illuminating encounter with this composer which we hope will not be the last.
nmz (Neue Musikzeitung), November 2002
Five Pieces for Five Clarinets
Their take on Bartók’s Romanian Dances worked wonderfully well as a wind arrangement and a modern Turkish piece by Ozkan Manav had plenty to interest.
website article (the page has been removed)
25 July 2004
All the compositions combined knowledge nourished by the composers’ own creative scope and were in search of an individual idiom. But this quest was truly fulfilled in a piano work by Özkan Manav which was the high point of the concert. Movement 5, composed for piano in 2006, is a work which displays the identity of a twenty-first century artist. One can follow indirect references to many of the crossroads passed on the path ascended by twentieth-century music. One can witness the search for new tone-colours. Between the lines where sound does not move forward but immerses itself in profundity, as we hear in the music of the French composer Messiaen, surprisingly, the makamic structure of Turkish music was subtly interweaved. This work, a challenging one for the pianist, displays the union of East and West in our times. One should not forget the contribution of the pianist, Metin Ülkü.
Cumhuriyet, 30 May 2007
Face-to-Face with Saygun (Kalan CD 399)
The title piece of the CD, Özkan Manav’s (*1967) Face-to-Face with Saygun: Proliferations on Five Pieces from Modal Music is a work written for solo violin. Manav composed this work in 2005 and dedicated it to Özyürek. In the work, which unfolds in five movements, he chooses five pieces from his teacher Saygun’s book entitled Töresel Musiki (Modal Music) as points of departure and then goes along completely different paths. In my view, he goes beyond his master; the use of traditional materials show a student who is sometimes more skilful than his teacher.
Milliyet, 26 November 2007
Face-to-Face with Saygun (Kalan CD 399)
Manav, known in his orchestral works and piano pieces titled Movements for long-breathed dramatic utterances – especially for the intense effects of his cadential points, – renounces all this in these five small pieces and moves towards a much barer means of expression and is effective to the same degree in this new means of expression.
Saygun’s giving Töresel Musiki (Modal Music) an opus number (op. 40) is intended to show that Töresel Musiki goes far beyond a solfège lesson book and should be thought of as a work . Manav’s approach to Töresel Musiki in this way is also important since it opens a gateway to its use in instrumental music.
Zeynep Gülçin Özkişi
Andante, February–March 2008, issue 32
Symphonic Dances (Three Contemporary Composers – Kalan CD 450)
Özkan Manav’s Symphonic Dances for seven percussionists, which were completed in 2000 and in my opinion will be placed high among his masterpieces in the future, were interpreted with terrific dynamism by the Eastman School of Music Percussion Ensemble under the direction of John H. Beck.
Milliyet, 17 August 2008
Symphonic Dances (Three Contemporary Composers – Kalan CD 450)
These five dances in three movements combine Afro-American-Latin rhythms with Aegean 9/4 and Balkan 9/8 ‘limping’ rhythms – but don’t be deceived by what is covered by this umbrella. These dances are not for those whose ears are accustomed to monorhythmic easy listening music! This is a composition which in places has an exceedingly complex polyrhythmic structures, moving back and forth between the traditional and the avant-garde, benefiting from the expressive force of the percussion instruments ; it is a solid and fluently unified work.
Milliyet Sanat, September 2008, no. 594
Fiona Tomkinson (1999-2008)
Mary Berkmen (2011-2016)