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Fazıl Say signs new recording contract with Warner Classics
The brilliant Turkish composer-pianist returns to the Warner roster with a Mozart piano sonatas cycle close to his heart
Renowned pianist and composer Fazıl Say has signed a new recording contract with Warner Classics. A household name in his native Turkey, Say has been hailed internationally not only as “a pianist of genius”, but as “one of the greatest artists of the 21st century” (Le Figaro). The signing sees Say return to the Warner roster some 18 years after he made his first acclaimed recordings for the Teldec label in 1998 – from Mozart and Bach to Stravinsky, alongside his own contemporary piano masterpiece, Black Earth.
“Fazıl Say is one of the greatest pianists of our era; he is also renowned composer whose unique style creates a scintillating blend of classical and jazz influences,” said Alain Lanceron, President of Warner Classics and Erato. “This is above all an artist engaged in the world around him; a humanist who never stops championing freedom of expression. To see him return to his original label family, with inspired recording projects that will captivate his loyal fans and new listeners alike, is for us a source of great pride.”
Fazıl Say adds: “I’m very happy to be once again a part of Warner. Warner Music launched my recording career twenty years ago when I was a Teldec artist. We now have this wonderful opportunity to record Mozart, as well as future projects ranging from Chopin to Satie, to my own music as a composer.”
Say renews his partnership with Warner Classics with a milestone project particularly dear to him: the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas cycle, for release in September 2016 as a 6-CD boxed set and via digital/streaming platforms.
A brilliant and sensitive player, Say has performed Mozart concertos with some of the most respected orchestras and conductors around the world, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The sonatas for solo piano bring his intimate, deeply personal conception of the composer’s oeuvre to the fore; a purity of musical expression that has long fascinated him as both performer and composer. In 2015, he completed performances of the cycle at the Salzburg Mozart Week in Wolfgang Amadeus’ hometown; undoubtedly the most discerning audience for Mozart in the world.
Recorded in the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum, this complete set of 18 sonatas has been grouped by key, allowing Say to explore Mozart’s pioneering approach to tonality. In an extensive essay written specially for this collection, the pianist explains his unique and deeply personal relationship with each sonata – in some cases movement by movement.
“This recording for me represents the most comprehensive and important work I have undertaken in my musical life as an interpreter,” Say explains. “The feelings that came to the fore during these recordings are also some of the most special that I have experienced in my life.”
ABOUT FAZIL SAY
When the German composer Aribert Reimann discovered the 16-year-old Fazıl Say’s fast-developing artistry on a trip to the latter’s hometown of Ankara, Turkey, he exclaimed to the American pianist David Levine: “You absolutely must hear him – this boy plays like a devil.” Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who had himself studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Perhaps sensing how talented his pupil was, Fenmen asked the boy to improvise every day on themes to do with his daily life before going on to complete his essential piano exercises and studies. This contact with free creative processes and forms is seen as the source of the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that have made Fazıl Say the pianist and composer he is today.
From 1987 onwards, Fazıl Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. This formed the aesthetic basis for his Mozart and Schubert interpretations, in particular, leading to victory at the Young Concert Artists International competition in New York in 1994. Since then he has played with all of the renowned American and European orchestras and numerous leading conductors, building up a multifaceted repertoire ranging from Bach, through the Viennese Classics (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) and the Romantics, right up to contemporary music, including his own piano compositions.
He has been commissioned to write music for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, the WDR, the Dortmund Konzerthaus and the Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festivals. His work includes compositions for solo keyboard and chamber music, as well as solo concertos and large-scale orchestral works, such as the 2011 Clarinet Concerto for Sabine Meyer inspired by the life and work of the Persian poet Omar Khayyam.
Say is a passionate advocate of music as a path to social change, in his native Turkey and beyond. “I strongly believe that art and music will form a bridge between Western and Eastern cultures, blending and transforming these cultures,” he stated in a speech for the 38th Congress of the International Federation of Human Rights in Istanbul, 2013.
The new recording contract between Warner Classics and Say covers markets worldwide, excluding Japan and Turkey.