Upcoming young composer’s specially commissioned work to be performed in Norwich

Composer Kemal Yusuf who has been commissioned by Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music to write the pie

Composer Kemal Yusuf who has been commissioned by Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music to write the piece Oyun. Picture: Submitted. - Credit: submitted

Kemal Yusuf's piece Oyun to be performed by the award-winning Carducci String Quartet.

Carducci String Quartet who worked with the composer and will be performing the work. Picture: Tom B

Carducci String Quartet who worked with the composer and will be performing the work. Picture: Tom Barnes - Credit: Tom Barnes

One of the UK's brightest new composers Kemal Yusuf will see his new specially commissioned work given a premiere in Norwich.

Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music commissioned the London-based composer to write a string quartet which is being premiered at their latest concert at the John Innes Centre this weekend.

Entitled 'Oyun', the piece will be performed by the award-winning Carducci String Quartet, with whom Yusuf worked and for whom it has been written for.

The piece comprises a single 18-minute movement constructed entirely out of one small gesture at the beginning. Its fundamental purpose - to play, to misbehave - is achieved in a gestural ?ux exploring all the colouristic, timbral and virtuosic capabilities of the in?nitely-gifted quartet.


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The work began in 2015 when Yusuf took his sketches to the late Peter Maxwell Davies, his cherished mentor and friend. Indeed, the more senior composer was the ?rst person to see the work and was hugely important in helping Yusuf to nurture his initial ideas.

The work - dedicated to Maxwell Davies - bookends a time when Max had a huge impact on Yusuf.

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'He helped me a lot, both spiritually and musically,' he says. 'Max was an incredibly important ?gure in my life, indeed a saviour in so many ways.'

The title of the piece 'Oyun' - which will receive its second performance at the Park Lane Chapel on February 19 - comes from the Turkish word for 'Game'.

It is challenging to say the least especially when one hears a lush and quickly modulating chorale very high up the register halfway through the piece. It's a moment of sturdiness entering again into misbehaviour.

The piece is part of a programme that will also include Haydn's Quartet in D major, Op.20/4; Webern Langsamersatz; and Beethoven String Quartet in F minor, Op.95.

The premiere marks a return to Norwich for Yusuf who was part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2016, when he was commissioned to compose a new piece, Cain, for the Festival Chorus and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He also worked with Sistema in Norwich towards a performance at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

He will be take part in a pre-concert discussion with members of the Carducci Quartet at the John Innes Centre on February 18 at 6.30pm.

• Carducci Quartet, John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich, February 18, 7.30pm, £25, 01603 628319, www.norwichchambermusic.co.uk

• The work will also be performed at 64 Park Lane, Norwich, February 19, 12pm. Details on contacts above.

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