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Violinist Rachel Barton Pine Performs Malek Jandali’s Violin Concerto

Released on Cedille Records, the album also features Anthony McGill in Jandali's Clarinet Concerto with ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop


Titled “Malek Jandali: Concertos for Violin and Clarinet,” this album comprises the world premiere recordings of Jandali’s Violin Concerto and Clarinet Concerto with Rachel Barton Pine and Anthony McGill as respective soloists. 

Both performed with ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Marin Alsop, Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali’s concertos reflect his dedication to preserving Syria’s cultural heritage and to humanitarian causes. 

His music combines ancient themes and Syrian melodies and idioms with Western-inspired harmonies and forms.

Written in 2014, Jandali’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra comprises various Syrian and Arabic music forms and folk melodies including multiple samā’i and bashraf (instrumental pieces), and longa (dances) from different maqam (modes, plus adopts the oud (Arabic lute) to give the work authentic Syrian sound and feeling.

“Just hearing that sound as I’m playing my music on this Western instrument in this Western symphony context was really very inspiring and helped me capture the flavor of what I was doing that much better,” said Pine.

Dedicated to the women of Syria who have endured oppression and hardship, the Violin Concerto honors “all women who thrive with courage,” Jandali explained. 

Jandali’s 2021 Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra is dedicated to Anthony McGill, a 2020 Avery Fisher Prize recipient, “in memory of all victims of injustice.” It involves variations on themes from old and traditional Syrian musical forms and modalities.

“In the midst of the pain and the violence and injustice in the world all we are left with is the ability to pour our hearts and our souls into something more beautiful, into something more powerful, so it can communicate throughout all time and live on,” said McGill, who has long advocated for social change throughout his career.

“Malek composes in some ways very traditionally because he uses notation and techniques that the instrumentalists are familiar with; but like Bartók did, like Dvořák did, he uses his cultural folk music as a real underpinning for developing these themes, developing these ideas,” added Alsop. “But the most important part of the story is always the moral... My job is to find the moral to the story and get that across, and Malek’s music is very, very strong in its intentionality and its desire to really stand up for those who don’t have a voice.”

The album was recorded in May 2022 at the Funkhaus Wien Großer Sendesaal in Vienna, Austria. To purchase and listen to the album, click here.

The trailer for Jandali’s Violin Concerto can be viewed below.


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