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Özgür Ünaldı 


Op.3 - Alnar Variations

Özgür Ünaldı, piano


To read about pianist-composer: Click here


The work “Alnar Variations” was written just before the Covid-19 pandemic showed up in Turkey, in March 2020. However, it was finalized during the quarantine period, making it the first major scale work of the composer. “Alnar Variations” consist of 13 variations, written on a theme by Turkish Composer Ferit Alnar (b.1906-d.1978), “On That Hillside” from “Eight Piano Pieces” were Ünaldı’s first encounter with the composer as an interpreter and he was deeply captivated by Alnar’s musicality which put an end to Ünaldı’s search for a theme for his new composition, years after the encounter. 

The work, which benefits from the vastness and liberty of the variation form is aimed to be perceived as a single piece. In general, counterpoint and polyphony is located at the center of the compositional technique throughout the work. The 7th and the 9th variations have the titles of “Last Goodbye to the Teacher” and “The Kanun Master”.

“Last Goodbye to the Teacher” is formed by the synthesis of the main theme and the last homework assigned 20 years ago by Zarife Bakihanova, Ünaldı’s harmony teacher back in his college years. As the variation is dedicated to Bakihanova, the second segment continues with simple chords of the sequence system, learned at the harmony lessons, the chords which accompanies Alnar’s theme. The goodbye portrait of the variation is made in the post-romantic style. 

“The Kanun Master” is a homage to Alnar’s interpreter personage as a kanun virtuoso. The theme is enriched by kanun passages with makams and cadenzas. It’s quite possible to observe a general influence of the kanun instrument in some other variations. 

In the original composition of Alnar, the 11th bar opens in an intermezzo style, triggering the bridge (or part B) between the main theme and the repeat of “On That Hillside”.  10th variation is a three-voice fugue and borrows the motif of the aforementioned 11th bar and makes it the theme of the fugue. The second part of the fugue creates an ostinato canon, formed by the small motif of the reversed theme and starting each motif from three different notes. Composer’s understanding of the fugue is not limited to different voices as theme and counter-theme. The second part of the fugue also combines different rhythms (10/4 and 9/8) at the same time, countering each other, dissonating, resolving and finally merging. Throughout the whole variations, Alnar’s 10/8 aksak rhythm usually conserves its originality, appearing as 3+4+3 groups which is another element contributing to hold the work as a whole.