Sheet Music Review
Ahmad Jevdet Ismail oglu Hajiyev (June 18, 1917 – January 18, 2002) was one of the major Azerbaijani composers of the Soviet period.
A student of Shostakovich, Hajiyev composed eight symphonies, three poems, the opera Veten (“Motherland”) (in collaboration with Gara Garayev), string quartets, solo piano music, choral and vocal works. He also taught at the Azerbaijan State Conservatory for more than four decades, while serving as a Rector from 1957-1969, and as Professor of Composition.
In 1997, the President of Azerbaijan bestowed upon Hajiyev the country’s highest accolade, the Azerbaijan Order of Glory, on the occasion of his 80th Jubilee, commemorating ‘60 long years of fruitful work which is highly appreciated by the nation and the State’.
To celebrate the centenary of his birth, the Muradov Family Archive has released Piano Collection book 1, with a series of concerts to be held in some of the finest concert halls around the world.
Piano Collection book 1 is brought to us via the ever-enterprising EVC Music Publications in the UK, and can be purchased from the EVC Music website here, where you can also listen to audio samples of most of the pieces (these are MIDI versions rather than performances).
Hajiyev’s Piano Music
The Piano Collection book 1 provides a generous selection comprising the following works:
- 8 Musical Sketches
- Sonata no.1
Of these pieces, the 8 Music Sketches are the most approachable to play, suitable for a pianist at around ABRSM Grade 5-6 level. Taut structures and playful experimentation characterise the writing here, and the pieces explore a wide range of moods. Modal passages and harmonies prominently feature.
The Scherzo, Ballade and Sonata no.1 meanwhile are around Grade 8 level. These are also more challenging for the listener. One can easily discern the distinctive voice of the composer, steeped in the folk music of his country while rooted in the world of 20th century classical composition.
According to Pervin Muradov, the composer’s daughter:
“Hajiyev drew his inspiration from the grand art of Azerbaijani mugham and ashiqs as well as sounds of traditional folk instruments tar (plucked lute), kemancha (spike fiddle) and saz (a long-necked folk lute). He can be described as a groundbreaking composer who delivered a colourful overtones to Azerbaijani symphonic classical music…
“The organic fusion between classical forms and folk music in Hajiyev’s compositions created unique intonations, melodies, and exceptional harmonies.”
My personal favourite of the pieces here is the Ballade, which would make an exciting and accessible concert piece, and surely deserves to be performed widely. Here’s a recording of this intoxicating piece played by Nargis Aliyarova:
EVC Music Publications, as many readers will know, have a growing worldwide reputation as a publisher of exciting and imaginative educational music. The publication of Jevdet Hajiyev’s works marks a new direction for founder Elena Cobb’s growing company, and it is exciting to see EVC Music diversifying in this way.
The music is engraved by Donald Thomson of MacMusic, who has done an excellent job of presenting these works pristinely, and with great clarity.
The music is well spaced, spread across 48 pages, and printed to a high standard. No fingering is provided, so this will be for the performer to select. The book itself has a gorgeous cover, sober in tone compared to previous EVC Music publications, as befits the nature of this collection.
Where next for Hajiyev’s Piano Music?
Bringing Hajiyev’s piano music into the spotlight through this new publication is not the end of the story. Throughout the year, concert performances are planned in London, Moscow and at in a special concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall, with more dates soon to be announced.
It is a genuine pleasure to applaud and promote this wonderful project in honour of a composer whose legacy is only just being discovered by many of us.
Piano Collection book 1 is a wonderful introduction to Hajiyev’s work, and comes very warmly recommended. The publication deserves every success, and will hopefully do much to bring Hajiyev’s music to a wider audience.
Piano Collection book 1 is available online now from EVC Music Publications priced at £14.99, and distributed worldwide by Alfred Music UK.