Bach at dawn in Bodrum

Daniel Jaffé travels to Bodrum in Turkey to sample an unusual music festival

Bach at dawn in Bodrum
D-Marin Turgutreis International Classical Music Festival

When did I last get up at about 5.55am to go to a concert? (Belated pay-back, perhaps, for all those morning lectures I failed to get up for as a student?) This is Bodrum – or rather, a rather lovely spa hotel some 22 kilometres outside the city – on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Having only flown in yesterday I’m still on UK time (it’s 3.55am back home). A chartered bus takes me in the grey light of dawn to the port city to see young cellist Dorukhan Doruk play Bach’s Solo Suites Nos 1 and 6.

We arrive at Sevket Sabanci Park, an attractive public garden named after the billionaire Turkish businessman. The chosen spot for Bach is an arbour, serving as a small arena encompassed by benches seating maybe around 60 people, with plenty of standing room behind. In this space, two large dogs are dozing, only stirred when Doruk appears, takes his seat and starts to play – whereupon, they quietly make their way out. There is no acoustic as such, yet Doruk makes his instrument sing eloquently in this space. All thoughts of tiredness are banished as he plays music that dances, or traces an impassioned line.

This is just one of the unusual highlights of the D-Marin Turgutreis International Classical Music Festival. (Another was the concert of film music, held at Bodrum Castle, brought to an absolute standstill for about five minutes when interrupted by a loudly amplified Adhan from the local mosque!) It also presents quite a strong contrast to the previous evening’s opening concert. Staged at Bodrum’s marina, this open-air event, with an audience of about 4,000, featured the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Russian pianist Denis Matsuev performing Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Most memorable, though, was Matsuev’s staggeringly high-speed encore, a jazzy improvisation that included a fleeting reference to Duke Ellington’s Take the A-Train.

The next evening we hear Doruk again, this time in a purpose-built amphitheatre near the marina, performing in a piano trio with colleagues Veriko Cumburidze on violin and Yunus Tuncali on piano. In this, the first of a series of sunset concerts, they perform Rachmaninov’s Trio Élégiaque No. 1, Mozart’s Trio No. 6, and Arensky’s charming Trio No. 1, their sensitive performances distinguishing these musicians as well worth looking out for. A short walk takes us back to the main marina stage to hear Sarah Chang with the RPO giving an enchanting performance of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, earning a well-deserved ovation.

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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