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«The Black Garden»

Fidan Aghayeva-Edler and Humay Gasimzade are Azerbaijani pianists, focusing on contemporary music. Their joint project, «The Black Garden», a reflection on Azerbaijani folk songs,  was conceived in the turbulent times of the Covid-19 pandemic and of Second Karabakh War as a tribute to all war victims, and those suffering from the war and the pandemic chaos. All proceeds from «The Black Garden» (Nagorno-Karabakh is a mix of Russian, Turkish and Persian languages, and means Mountainous Black Garden) will go to the fundraiser for the families affected by the war in Azerbaijan.

Both pianists are committed to social change and justice. Aghayeva-Edler focuses on the rediscovery of music by persecuted composers and tries to represent the music of male, female and non-binary composers equally in her concert programs. Gasimzade thinks of the piano as a «vault where a large body of acoustic sounds is kept securely», in which different cultures, races, individuals, genders and ethnicities melt into each other, and co-exist in harmony and peace. «Music is and always will be building bridges instead of walls», she says.

«The Black Garden» even bridges across continents. Aghayeva-Edler played and improvised the toy piano in Berlin while Gasimzade played and improvised on the piano in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The seven short pieces offer colorful insights into the rich cultural and musical heritage of Azerbaijan. The unconventional combination of the toy piano, which sounds more like a percussive instrument and often as the hammered santur, and the grand piano, as well as the great affinity and poetic interplay of Aghayeva-Edler and Gasimzade, produce elusive yet hypnotic and nuanced textures that navigate freely between the Azerbaijani musical traditions and the Western classical ones. The beauty and honesty of Aghayeva-Edler and Gasimzade music travel – and even dance – through cultures and times, and, obviously, even through walls.

Eyal Hareuveni  

Fidan Aghayeva-Edler (toy-p), Humay Gasimzade (p)

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