Masterworks of Itri & Meragi


Musicians: Ihsan Özgen (vocals & tanbur), Ahmet Kaya (ney), Neva Özgen (kemençe), M. Refik Kaya (rebab, kudüm, bendir), Yelda Özgen (violoncello)

Music & Artistic Director: Ihsan Özgen

Tracks
1. Rast Na't-I Serif (Itri)
6:25
2. Tanbur Taksim (Improvisation on tanbur)
1:28
3. Ses Avaz Kar (Meragi)
4:20
4. Kemençe Taksim (Improvissation on kemençe)
0:55
5. Bestanigar Beste (Itri)
4:25
6. Ney Taksim (Improvisation on ney)
0:55
7. Rebab Taksim (Improvisation on rebab)
1:35
8. Segah Kar (Meragi)
4:18
9. Ney Taksim (Improvisation on ney)
1:55
10. Buselik Beste (Itri)
4:55
11. Tanbur Taksim
1:15
12. Hisar Agir Semai
4:52
13. Ney Taksim (Improvisation on ney)
2:10
14. Violoncello Taksim (Improvisation on violencello)
1:18
15. Rast Nakis Beste (Meragi)
5:45


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"The appeal of this particular music to Western audiences lies in its vitality and in the free expression of the musician at the moment of improvisation."
Nikoforos Metaxas


Hace Abdülkadir Meragi (1350?-1435)

Meragi is one of the early period Ottoman composers and musicologist who share the appellation "master of the masters". After Safiyuddin Urmevi, Meragi is the author of some of the most significant books on music and science from this period. He was born in Meragha, which is now in Iran's Azerbaijan. He became well known as a composer, singer and lute player at a very young age. He studied with famous scientists and artists of the times, one of whom was his own father, Giyasettin Gaybi, a famous scholar and musician. Later he studied music, literature and calligraphy. He showed a great talent in calligraphy, poetry and illustrating manuscripts. Meragi was considered to be the greatest composer of the age in the Islamic world. He was a prolific composer, but only forty of his works have survived until today, most of which are claimed to be the works of other composers who imitated Meragi's style.

In 1377, Meragi won a composition competition, organized by Hace Raziyeddin Ridvanshah. Meragi was invited to this competition by Ridvanshah himself, who was a theorist of music. For his victory, he was awarded 1000 dinars and was accepted into the palace. When Timur captured Bagdad in 1393, he took many scholars and artists, including Meragi, to Samarkand. There Meragi was the head musician at Timurlenk (Tamberlane) court. When claims were made that scholars and artists contributed to his son's moral demise, Timurlenk punished all of them including Meragi. But Meragi was able to convince Timur to forgive him. After that he was under the protection of Timur and the following rulers. Later on he was at Heart until the end of his life, at Shabrub's court where he was shown great respect. Meragi died of the plague in 1435.


Buhurizade Mustafa Efendi (Itri) (1640?-1712?)

Itri is a Turkish composer, poet and calligrapher. It has been speculated that Itri was born between 1630 and 1640, based on his own writings, and the poets whose works he used in his musical compositions. It is apparent that he was well-educated and that his studies were wide-spread. One of the most significant music teachers of Itri was Hafiz Post. Itri became a mevlevi by joining Sheik Cami Ahmet Dede Efendi's Yenikapi lodge of Mevlevi dervishes. During the Sultanate of Mehmet IV, he joined fasils (concerts) in the palace as a hanende (singer). In the meantime, his fame as a composer spread. He was offered presents and patronage by the sultans and their court who loved and admired Itri's music. Itri died in Istanbul in 1711 or 1712. His gravesite is unknown.

Itri came into contact with musicians from other countries during his work, and after many years of teaching at Enderun (palace school), he retired from his palace duties around 1690. His life after retirement remains a mystery.

Mustafa Efendi was a well-known poet from this period as well, who used Itri as his pen name. Itri was also a grower of fruits and flowers and was credited with the cultivation of mustabey pears, the reason he was given the name of Itri, a grower of plants. His poetry includes work in the divan (palace literature) tradition as well as saz (folk) tradition.

He learned the art of calligraphy from Siyahi Ahmet Efendi and was especially successful with talik calligraphy (Persian style of writing). Examples of his calligraphy can be seen in Hafiz Post's Güfte Mecmuasi (Magazine of Lyrics).

In chronological terms, Itri is perhaps the second most important composer after Meragi. Even though it is speculated that he composed more than one thousand works, today we have a mere forty of them. His compositions were diverse, including religious and Mevlevi music, as well as instrumental and secular music.


Anatolia Ensemble

Anatolia reflects the changing work and musical outlook of Ihsan Özgen. The varieties of musical genres which combine under the aegis of the ensemble, incorporating influences both eastern and western, have worked a powerful influence on its members. Different musical genres, which came into existence and grew in Anatolia, are the basis of Anatolia Ensemble. It was influenced by the fact that people who have migrated from Central Asia have combined their own pentatonic music with that from Iran, various Arabic countries, the Byzantine tradition, the Balkans, the Aegean and the Mediterranean, which has resulted in new genres. How does Anatolia make use of this rich material? By introducing a new expression; by championing a modern polyphonic approach; and within its unique performance style, where a dynamic profundity and improvisational bravado are taken up as two important aims of the group. New sounds are being formed as well as the working of rhythmic and melodic changes in the rearranging process of anonymous works or of works composed earlier.

Sometimes, when a particular instrument is in the foreground, the others are used to enrich the melody, using vertical and horizontal pedals. The human voice is considered to be yet another musical instrument in the group. Taksims are solo improvisations performed on an instrument or with the human voice. Percussion instruments are used like other instruments, a use which lies outside the Turkish classical music tradition, to contribute to the melody creation.