Malek Jandali | Syrian Symphony

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Classical: Symphony World: Middle East Contemporary Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Syrian Symphony

by Malek Jandali

Original piano and orchestra compositions combining Oriental melodies, Arabic modes, and Syrian rhythms with the western symphony orchestra.
Genre: Classical: Symphony
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Variations for Piano and Orchestra
Malek Jandali & The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
8:47 album only
2. Syrian Symphony: I. Allegro non troppo ma molto energico
Malek Jandali & The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
9:50 album only
3. Syrian Symphony: II. Moderato
Malek Jandali & The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
5:06 album only
4. Syrian Symphony: III. Andante
Malek Jandali & The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
7:58 album only
5. Syrian Symphony: IV. Allegro
Malek Jandali & The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
9:23 album only
6. Phoenix in Exile
Malek Jandali & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
6:13 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I. Variations for Piano and Orchestra

With a performing time of only eight minutes, the seven Variations present different views of the same background material: forwards, backwards, inverted, in constantly shifting and varied orchestral settings, from extended multi-colored monody to monochromatic polyphony. There is no theme as such, but the opening statement is rich in gesture, rhythmic and intervallic motives that echo throughout the piece in a subtle, non-literal way. The Variations are replete with allusions to the inspiring ancient Syrian theme “Lama Bada Yatathana”, a sophisticated and intriguing 10/8 melody.

II. Syrian Symphony in F Major

Composed in the United States and recorded with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra in Moscow, this work aims to preserve and present the rich heritage and cultural identity of Syria at one of the most pivotal moments in the nation’s history. In March 2011, Syrian children ignited the flame of a historic peaceful revolution for freedom, human rights and justice. As the bombs were falling on his homeland and forced millions of families, including his own into exile, the composer defiantly began writing his symphony.

Jandali’s work on his symphony was not continuous, but was interrupted by the production of an astounding series of other weighty compositions: a Violin Concerto, the Piano Theme and Variations, the Sinfonietta, a Syrian anthem, and a series of trio works for piano, cello and the traditional Arabic instrument, the Oud. Events of the ongoing Syrian revolution imbued Jandali with a sense of urgency and moral obligation to give the voiceless a voice. The slow movement was completed in only one week, shortly after the chemical weapons attack on Al-Ghouta in Damascus on August 21, 2013.

The symphony continues for four epic movements. After the initial energetic first and second movements, comes an ambiguous and melancholic slow movement. More secure is the forth movement, a dance in 9/8, though that is swept away by a caustic finale, eking its way towards a dazzlingly victorious coda.

Jandali’s F-Major Symphony has a cyclic aspect, unity being provided by the appearance of the main theme in both the first and last movements. This new symphonic mastery was clearly not brought about only by a reaction to contemporary events, but also by sustained contact with the well-springs of polyphonic elegant music.

The first movement immediately sets up the Syrian scene that will remain ever present throughout the symphony. The strength, freedom and individuality of the strings, representing the Syrian people, pitted against the brutal, machine-like rhythms of the brass and timpani – their oppressors. A bassoon solo marks the end of the movement and invites us into a dreamlike atmosphere of total serenity, peace and calm. It is a wistful and nostalgic world, soon to be shattered by tyranny.

The main part of the first movement is a driving Allegro in sonata form, with a Syrian sounding principal theme and a yearning lyric melody that is quintessentially Jandali. The unique and innovative quality of this work is particularly in evidence in the first movement, which consists of two main themes inspired by Syrian street songs.

The principal motivic complex, compressed into five notes (F-E-Db-E-C), needed to be expanded in time and space. As a starting point for a symphonic composition it is entirely novel, and it is the cause not only of the concentration, the lapidariness of the movement, but also of its character of being unremittingly related to a goal, to a patriotic cause.

The second movement, Moderato, plays the role of the Scherzo with an interesting 5/4 dance-like theme. The middle section is a very light, mysterious march and the texture is generally soloistic and contrapuntal. Often the accompanimental lines pass from one instrument to another, as a kind of super-melody, which results in striking timbral effects. There are numerous rhythmic and structural devices to frame the textural settings, type and instrumentation. With its musical charm and wit, this is symphonic music of the highest quality. Just when you think it has to end, another surge envelops you. The main theme is repeated with distorted variations of the melody depicting the realities suffered by people under tyranny.

The slow movement is marked as an Andante and begins solemnly, rising to a passionate climax. The ambiguous start seems to describe a mother searching for her missing child. The accompanying footsteps are hesitating, but the purposeful melody is determined. The gloomy motif initially presented by clarinets has been viewed by commentators as representing Fate, and it more or less colors the entire movement. The child is miraculously found and the horns and trumpets announce a bright welcome full of expectation.

Many people wonder whether this movement is optimistic or pessimistic. The long tunnel of darkness ends with a brief glimpse of hope in the middle section of the brass. The central section is melancholic and nostalgic. The emptiness that follows is orchestrated in a way that gives the solo cello an attempt to console.

The structure of this Rondo-Finale movement is A-B-A1-C-A2-B1 plus an insert A3-C1 coda that effectively ends the symphony. The entire movement is built upon a dance melody in 10/8 colored with chromatic harmony and interesting rhythmic patterns. It is as if Jandali is saying if we stick together we will survive. If we all sing, we can’t be beaten. The victory will be ours and the triumph of that is the maestoso climax of the symphony on the theme of the first movement. What had been cold, unrelenting and inhuman is now invested with every ounce of human joy. It is the emotional climax of the work saying: the power of people is stronger than people in power. Syrian Symphony was released on January 31, 2015 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

III. Phoenix in Exile

Jandali in exile remained a proud Syrian and his unique personal voice is heard with even greater clarity and definition in this work, speaking in a tone steeped in the ardor of his will and the aspiring idealism of his echoes. As the oboe introduces the main melody, we hear the piercing cry of the Phoenix’s lament. In his search for freedom, he is exiled from his beloved homeland to seek a peaceful refuge. The strings interrupt the bird’s cry, depicting howling winds and clouds scudding across the sky.

As the Phoenix flies up and away, a cloud of birds of all shapes and sizes rises up from the earth and flies behind him, singing together. The solo violin finale is the cry of the Phoenix as he continues on his journey alone to fulfill his destiny and rise again from the ashes. The Syrian people, like the Phoenix, will rise from the ruins and rebuild their homeland in a manner even more magnificent than it used to be. Through history, the Phoenix could not live its full lifespan, yet it never failed to rise from its ashes to chant the story of a living nation. Phoenix in Exile was recorded on May 21, 2014 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.



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