MUSICA MUNDANA Chamber Music Society

Music of the Heavens
Written by NYPress on June 6, 2013.

Musica Mundana’s transcendent New York performance

By Judy Gelman Myers

Mundana is the worst kind of false cognate: it pretends to mean its opposite. Musica mundana is not, as one would expect, mundane music at all but the music of the spheres, the sounds the planets make as they revolve in limitless space, a heavenly noise we could hear if we only opened ourselves to it. It’s also the name of the excellent chamber ensemble that played Drom on May 23, in a program that flowed effortlessly from the Argentinean tangos of Piazzolla and Gardel to “Romanian Melody” by German Romantic composer Max Bruch and “Tango” by Stravinsky. For Musica Mundana, music is music, disregarding–or transcending–geographical borders and questions of genre.

Musica Mundana
Photo by Metin Oner

What allows this trio to move with dexterity and authenticity between varied material is its heterogeneity–each of its superb musicians combines classical training with a deep knowledge of ethnic traditions. A master of Debussy’s piano scores, Turkish-born director Aysegul Durakoglu concertizes in Sephardic repertoire; Argentinean-born cellist Leo Grinhauz studied under Janos Starker and recorded with Paquito D’Rivera; Macedonian clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski, the first Rom to graduate from Juilliard, is a founding member of the New York Gypsy All-Stars.

Their classical training forbids cheesy exaggeration while their ethnic roots forbid excessive rigidity. For example, Lumanovski rendered “Czardas,” composed in 1904 by Italian Vittorio Monti but heard most often in Hungarian restaurants, with the virtuosity it required but none of the shenanigans that frequently accompany its playing, while Durakoglu and Grinhauz artfully supported Piazzolla’s Four Seasons (“Autumn” and “Summer”) with the force necessary to the tango’s centrifugal drive without self-conscious enslavement to its syncopation.

The true meaning of musica mundana revealed itself in Piazzolla’s “Milonga,” arranged as a clarinetpiano duet. Like Rodrigo in his Concierto de Aranjuez, Piazzolla captures something ineffably sad in the universe, a melancholy inherent in the turning of the spheres, transported on Lumanovski’s clarinet with unsentimenal sympathy, an empathic, godlike recognition of the way things are. The show ended—perfectly—with Piazzolla’s “Liber Tango,” whose sophistication of harmonies, intricate interplay between melodic lines and syncopation give his music the kind of richness that makes you beg for just one more, for the evening to never end.

Musical Journey with the Orient Express
Written by Hayati ASILYAZICI from AYDINLIK on September 8, 2013

ReviewThe Pera Palas-Jumeirah Hotel that was built to host the passengers of the Orient Express in 1882, celebrated its 121. anniversary with a musical offering on September 6, 2013. The program consisting of the chamber music works following the route of the train, was presented by pianist Aysegul Kus Durakoglu and the members of the Chamber Music Society Musica Mundana and guest artists. Among the guest artists were Cihat Askin, violin; Serap Ciftci, soprano; Leo Grinhauz, cello; Ismail Lumanovski, clarinet. This magnificent event was sponsored by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture and Privia.
Impressions from the Eastern and Western Cultures

The program provided a bridge between the Eastern and Western cultures and Aysegul Durakoglu leaded the whole program like a conductor from the piano. Durakoglu carried her musicianship and virtuosity to a universal level that night. Cihat Askin, a violin virtuoso of higher standards added a totally different color to the program with his playing while the mezzo-soprano Serap Ciftci interpreted the Turkish tangos well. The works by Donizetti and Sultan Mahmud from the Ottoman Court contributed to the purpose of the program. Cellist Leo Grinhauz played an effective role for the success of the performance; Ismail Lumanovsky with his clarinet helped to reach the synthesis between the cultures.