Project Description

Court music from Orient and Occident

“Abduction into the Seraglio – the Pera Ensemble mesmerizes with West-East sounds.  “Thoughtfully to float for ever/ ‘Tween two worlds, be man’s endeavour!” : Thus muses Goethe in his ‘West-Eastern Divan’, and it is in light of this motto that one can begin to capture the finesse inherent in the playful experiments of the Pera Ensemble.  Breathtakingly beautiful, often flowing in a mezzo-piano, indeed, one can hear the kind of music that would have graced the magnificent Ottoman courts.. (Darmstädter Echo).

“The possibilities offered by the Baroque dynamics are discerningly implemented and aspects of both tempo and phrasing are harmoniously structured.  The Ensemble plays with precision and verve in equal measure.”  (

“Under the influence of this black elixir, Yeşilçay audaciously transforms the time-tested idiom of the Baroque masters Lully, Vivaldi, Händel and Porpora.  Tones are exuberantly slurred rhythmic rigor is subverted, established western compositions are rearranged and reorchestrated in Oriental fashion.  Bass-accompanied string instruments are sidelined, guitars and percussions are amplified and culturally exotic instruments like the qanun, khalil, kemençe and oud are integrated.   (TLZ Thüringen)

“Above all, one should sit back and enjoy the music, preferably with a cup of coffee!  However, I must warn you: even without coffee this music goes straight to the heart!”  (Kultur online)

Since the Middle Ages, the expansionist policy of the Ottoman Empire had kept the West on tenterhooks.  It was in the 17th and 18th centuries that fear gave way to fascination for foreign culture.  Delegations on behalf of the sultan brought their lifestyle and customs to Europe and triggered a wave of enchantment with all things Turkish in the royal courts.  Composers such as Lully or Fux, inspired by Janissary music, began writing in the Turkish style.  Even the coffee brought over from the empire became an indispensable elixir of the era and succeeded where politics had often failed: it united the Orient and the Occident in a harmonious way.  “The enjoyment of a cup of coffee together is worth forty years of friendship”: so goes a Turkish proverb.  It is in this spirit that the Pera Ensemble proceeded to perform works by Lully, Porpora, Vivaldi, Händel, Ebu Bekir Aga, Kantemir and others, in venues where coffee was once served: in the seraglios, pavilions and salons of high society.
Ensemble: Ud Kanun, Kemençe, Ney, historical reeds, 2 Baroqueviolins, Baroquecello, Harpsichord, Theorba/Baroqueguitar, Percussion, Contralto or Soprano, Turkish Singer

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