Kalan Müzik Yapim (Arsiv Serisi) CD 328-329, 2 CDs with liner notes
in Turkish (Bülent Aksoy, 11 pp.) and English (Ercüment Aksoy, 8 pp.)
Review by Yoram
Probably the most
important fact of Mesut Cemil' s biography is the fact that he is the son of
Tanburi Cemil Bey. As his father before him, Mesut Cemil (1902-1963) is responsible
for great stylistic changes in the music that is known as "Turkish Classical
Music." Both of them lived in times of great political, social and cultural
changes. Cemil Bey lived in the time of the decline of the Ottoman Empire, his
son, Mesut in the time of the formation of the new Turkish Republic.
The musical relation
between these two great musical figures is not clear. Most sources remark that
Mesut Cemil took very few music lessons from his father. His father is known
to have had a disturbed personality, difficulty in his domestic relationships,
and was an alcoholic. Tanbury Cemil died when Mesut was only fourteen, but even
before, Mesut already took music and tanbur lessons from other teachers.
He studied both with his father's students, like Refik Fersan, and with teachers
of older schools of tanbur playing, like Suphi Ezgi - schools that their
style of playing Tanburi Cemil is said to have "broken" (Öztuna:
176). Later on Mesut Cemil published a biography of his father - titled Tanburi
on performance styles of Turkish classical music is undeniable. As a musical
director of Ankara and Istanbul radios his work served both in the preservation
of the Ottoman repertoire and in the development of a new style. Cemil's ensemble
and choruses performed old repertoire that was rarely performed anymore in his
time, including old musical forms from the Ottoman fasil. He also performed
for the first time the Mevlevi ayin out of the Sufi tekke context;
these ayins were also commercially recorded (see discography). During
his time of musical activity, Turkish classical music was subject to political
and ideological debates and pressures (Signell 1977:1, Feldman 1996: 15-17),
and for some time was even banned from public broadcasting. Cemil's continual
work helped not only in preserving the performance of this music but also in
fostering a new generation of highly developed performers such as Necdet Yasar
and Niyazi Sayin.
In his youth Cemil
spent three years in Berlin studying European music and cello under Hugo Becker.
His going there was encouraged by Sadeddin Arel, who wanted to establish a modern
style of Turkish music based on Western influences. Probably based on such "ideological"
concepts, Cemil's new style tried to combine old and classical repertoire, with
a refined artistic performance. Cemil used less ornamentation in these performances,
took percussion instruments out of the ensemble, established choruses and used
his cello for drones and contrapuntal accompaniment.
Until the year
2000, when Golden Horn Records published a three CD set of his recordings, Cemil's
recordings - except for a few LPs that were released in Turkey - were not available
to the public (Öztuna mentions plaks - records - on p. 177 but doesn't
give a discography nor a publisher). The liner notes mention a Polydor 78 rpm
for CD I track 10, the liner notes for the Golden Horn CD mention a Columbia
recording for CD I track 2 and an anonymous 78 rpm recordings for CD I tracks
11 and 12. Surviving recordings were restricted to private collectors and archives,
and the fate of the recordings of the TRT (Turkish Television and Radio) was
not clear. Various anecdotes tell about people finding TRT recordings in the
garbage, flee markets, etc. Considering these facts, there is no questioning
about the importance of such archival publishing. Kalan Music is continuing
its effort in supplying archival recordings of Turkish music to the (apparently
more and more eager) general public (see "Archive Series" in www.kalan.com).
Since both this
CD and the Golden Horn three CD set release from 2000 carry the exact same title,
and refer to the exact same musical material, it seems that a comparison between
these two publications is unavoidable. Two brothers, Bülent and Ercüment
Aksoy, are connected with the Kalan and Golden Horn publications, respectively.
Kalan used Ercument Aksoy's liner notes (the Golden Horn CD has only English
liner notes, Turkish liner notes can be found on the web site; see web sites
below), with some editing, for their English liner notes. The Turkish liner
notes in the Kalan CD are written by Bülent Aksoy, and seem to supply slightly
different information. Notes about individual tracks are supplied only in Turkish
in the Kalan publication and suffer from typing and editing mistakes. On the
whole it seems that Golden Horn's liner notes supply more information, though
discrepancies concerning information about sources, recording dates, players
etc. can be found in both of these publications.
Eight out of the
24 tracks on the Kalan CDs can be found also on the Golden Horn CDs. Five of
these are recordings from the Cairo Eastern Music Congress recordings of 1932
(called usually The Cairo Arab Music Congress, see Racy 1991). Mesud Cemil was
one of the Turkish delegates to this conference together with Rauf Yekta. On
the whole this Congress probably didn't have as much impact on Turkish music
as it had on Arab music, and is little referred to in Turkish musicological
literature. It can be seen to represent a point of departure from which Turkish
music and Arabic music became more distinct - a process that started much earlier
and culminated in the Congress with the rejection of the Turkish participants
of the equal-tempered scale of twenty-four quarter notes; the theoretical system
accepted in the Arab world today (racy 1991: 74).
According to Racy
the Recording Committee of the congress, headed by Robert Lachmann, produced
over 175 disks on a special label of His Masters Voice (Racy 1991: 73). In the
liner notes for both the CD sets, the source of these recordings is given in
the form of obscure initials (e.g. H.2.C7 or H.C. 79). A list headed "Archives"
at the back of the Kalan CD, lists the sources of all the recordings but fails
to mention the source for these important ones. We don't know exactly how many
Turkish recordings were made, and what kind of repertoire was chosen at the
Congress. This kind of information could lead to interesting conclusions on
both how the Turkish delegation chose to present Turkish music, and what was
chosen by the Recording Committee (Racy gives the guidelines of the Committee
on what should be recorded; pp. 72-3).
The new Kalan CD set is an important contribution to the publication of archival
recordings of Turkish classical music. Undoubtedly, connoisseurs of Turkish
classical music will want to add it to their shelve. Though some of its tracks
appear on the previously released Golden Horn CD set, this publication does
present new material, and is concentrated more around instrumental repertoire.
As an archival and a research tool the liner notes suffer from some flaws in
supplying important information; nevertheless they do contain a good biography
and analysis of the significance of this important figure in Turkish music history.
1996. Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition and the Early Ottoman
Instrumental Repertoire. Berlin: VWB, Verl. für Wiss. und Bilding.
Signell, Karl L.
1977. Makam: Modal Practice in Turkish Art Music. Seattle: Asian Music
Publications, School of Music, University of Washington.
Racy, Ali Jihad.
1991. "Historical Worldviews of Early Ethnomusicologists: An East-West
Encounter in Cairo, 1932" in Ethnomusicology and Modern Music History,
edited by S. Blum et al. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Pp, 68-91.
1990. "Cemil, Mes'ut Ekrem" in Büyük Türk Musikisi
Ansiklopedisi vol. I. Ankara: Kültür Bakanligi . Pp. 175-77.
Mesut Cemil (1902-1963)
Volume 1 - Early Recordings, Masterworks of Turkish Classical Music. 2000. Walnut
Creek, California: Golden Horn Records. GHP 013-2.
Mesut Cemil (1902-1963)
Volume 2 & 3 - Instrumental & vocal Recordings, Masterworks of Turkish
Classical Music. 2000. Walnut Creek, California: Golden Horn Records. GHP 014-2.
Mevlana; Dede Efendi,
Saba Ayini. 1996 . Istanbul: Kalan Müzik Yapim. CD 042.
A page dedicated to the reviewed CD. Contains the liner notes text, track list,
production information and sound examples
A page dedicated to the Saba Ayin CD (see discography). Contains track
list, list of performers, production information and sound examples
A short review of the Golden Horn CD with some sound samples
Pages devoted to the Golden Horn CDs. Contain the liner notes in English and
Turkish, track lists and sound examples