- Gaytagi, dance for piano & orchestra
- Piano Concerto after Arabian Themes
- Shusha, for voice & orchestra
- The Sea, for piano & orchestra
The Naxos label has made a good move in devoting several series of CDs to contemporary national schools, presenting compositions largely unknown outside their home countries. This release, apparently supported by Azerbaijan's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, presents five works for piano and orchestra, most of them influenced by folk idioms in a manner that seems to have changed little following Azerbaijan's re-emergence as an independent country in the 1990s. But the wrinkle here is that the native tradition fused with Western forms itself has several levels: folk melodies, a cultivated idiom akin to Persian and Arab classical styles, and Turkic and Persian cultural influences as well. The most ambitious piece is the first one, unusual in that it is a cooperative composition by Fikret Amirov and Elmira Nazirova, the latter an associate of Shostakovich. It adds Arab melodies to the mix, and it's notable for its serious slow movement, which seems to have some of Shostakovich's gloom. The booklet explains the deeper levels of cultural negotiation going on in that work and in the concerto by Vasif Adigezalov; these may not be immediately apparent to the Western listener, but the writing in the fast movements is tight and appealing, and pianist Farhad Badalbeyli is equal to the music's high technical demands. The "Dance for piano and orchestra" of Tofig Guliyev is an exceptionally successful and high-spirited piece, but the two shorter impressionistic works of Badalbeyli himself at the end are less distinctive, albeit undeniably idiomatic. Enjoyable for anyone and well recorded in London's Cadogan Hall with the Royal Philharmonic under the indefatigable Dmitry Yablonsky, this release stimulates curiosity about the other releases in Naxos' Azerbaijani series.