Friday, November 04, 2011

CCC 04 - Bechara El-Khoury

We continue the Consonant Classical Challenge with Bechara El-Khoury. Just as not all contemporary composer write deliberately ugly music (that's the stereotype we're trying to correct here), not all are from Europe. Bechara El Khoury is a Franco-Lebanese composer who was born in Beirut. In his early 20's he moved to France, and eventually became a French national.

El-Khoury's compositions betray an affinity for Ravel, especially in his lush orchestral works. At the same time, he also draws inspiration from the Middle East. It doesn't manifest itself in any obvious fashion, but it's there nevertheless.

The result is music that's rich in texture, appealing in melody and something that could have been written in no other century. Here's a short sample, the Meditiation Symphonique, Op. 53: Colline de l'etrange.

At the moment, El-Khoury is better-known to European audiences than American. But hopefully that will change in time. His Symphony Op. 37 "The Ruins of Beruit" is a deeply moving composition written in reaction to what he saw first-hand during the 1975 war. His 9/11 memorial symphonic work, "New York, Tears and Hope," Op. 65 is equally heart-felt.

Not much of El-Koury's catalog is available on recording, and there are even fewer chances to hear his music performed live (at least in the States). Orchestra looked to expand their appeal should consider adding his music to their repertoire. It's relevant to audiences today, but it won't scare off the concert-goers mired in the past.

Recommended recordings:

Bechara El-Khoury: New York, Tears and Hope; The Rivers Engulfed

El-Khoury: Orchestral Works

Bechara El-Khoury: Orchestral Works

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